Public space in local councils influences the creation of a physical environment that supports physical activity, including walking for purposes of physical activity, strolling, moving between everyday locations (commuting) or a variety of outdoor activities. This environment should be well-lit, accessible, aesthetic, shaded, safe and secure, containing such points of interest as parks, outdoor gym equipment and additional points of attraction.
Outdoor walking is the public's physical activity of choice, so finds a survey of physical activity habits conducted by the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Ministry of Health. Some populations walk more than others, such as older adults and children. Sometimes this is the only way for them to move around. Therefore, well-lit sidewalks, pathways and pedestrian lanes should be made available and accessible.
Over the last few decades, walking became an important issue in the fields of planning, urban design and healthcare, since urban environment influences healthy behaviors and mobility.
The benefits are twofold, both for the locality and for the residents
Residents enjoy health-related, social and economic benefits. Walking can halve the risk for heart attacks, assist in preventing a wide variety of additional ailments, relieves pressure, reduces the risk for vehicular accidents and more. An urban space that promotes walkability, walking and physical activity improves the lifestyle and quality of life for the residents in their locality.
There are also multiple benefits for the local council from various social and economic aspects: Environmentalism, road safety, promotion of a sense of community and tourism, social equality, crime reduction and more. Streets where many people walk on foot contribute to the development of urban commerce, social interaction and community activities that improves the public space as well as the urban economy.
What's in this document and who is it aimed at?
The document "Shaping Urban Space to Promote Walking and Physical Activities in Local Councils" was written as part of the ensemble of tools developed by the national program Efsharibari. Its goal is to make information, recommendations and examples readily available, thereby helping policymakers, professionals and interest groups in local councils to take actions for changing the policy and the public space environment.
The document includes:
- Recommendations for action in accordance with guidelines for improving walkability and residents' physical activity, including recruitment and mapping processes, pedestrian-oriented planning, advertising and marketing and communal and educational activities.
- Examples for changes to urban space from Israel and the world.
- Recommendations for sign placement for promoting walking and physical activity, including recommended messages for these signs.