Improve Public Health through the Built Environment

The design of communities can impact health. For example, access to parks and greenspace improve air quality and promote exercise. The Atlanta Region’s Plan policies seek to better integrate public health impacts into the planning process through public safety, encouraging walking and bicycling, identifying opportunities for local food production and planning for the expansion of green infrastructure.



Roundabout at Emory Village

An LCI study helped fund a roundabout and new streetscapes in Emory Village. Today, it’s a less congested, safer area, bustling with shops and restaurants

From major employment centers like Buckhead and Downtown Atlanta, to smaller downtowns like McDonough and Suwanee, ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) program helps communities re-invest in areas that already have the infrastructure to support jobs and development.

Through a competitive grant process, LCI helps local governments, community improvement districts (CIDs) and local residents re-envision their communities in a way that increases walking and biking options, encourages healthy lifestyles, and provides improved access to transit and jobs. The goal: to reduce car trips and improve air quality in the region.

The ARC board has allocated more than $300 million for transportation projects resulting from completed LCI studies, including sidewalks, bike lanes and roadway and intersection improvements.

Since 2000, the LCI program has invested in 119 communities throughout the Atlanta region, providing funding for planning studies and transportation projects, such as sidewalks and intersection improvements.


Downtown Douglasville

Downtown Douglasville

The city of Douglasville received its first LCI grant in 2001. Since then, the city has steadily implemented its plan with an eye toward creating a more walkable downtown – and providing healthier lifestyle options for Douglasville residents.

The city’s has built sidewalks and made other pedestrian-related improvements. But the city also realized that residents needed interesting places to walk to if the Douglasville was to build a pedestrian culture. With business and redevelopment partners, the city built a conference center, reconfigured Highway 92, and redeveloped several downtown properties, most recently turning an historic car dealership into a co-working space called the Station Loft Works.

Downtown Woodstock

Downtown Woodstock

One of LCI’s greatest success stories is downtown Woodstock, a once sleepy town on the region’s northern edge. Today, it boasts a growing and lively mix of shops, offices and housing. For residents, a night on the town now means staying close to home and enjoying all the new options.



Bicycling and walking are critical transportation modes throughout the Atlanta region, and not just for short trips. When combined with public transit, walking or biking provides a viable option for many longer trips.

The Atlanta Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan, Walk, Bike, Thrive!, envisions the completion of a regional-scale trail network, community scale walking and bicycling networks, and first- and last-mile connections to regional transit systems.

The Atlanta Region’s Plan includes funding for the completion of this network as well as for other regionally significant pedestrian, bicycle, trail and transit-access projects. Overall funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is projected to be $1.8 billion through 2040.

The Atlanta Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan includes the following strategies to increase the share of trips made on foot or by bike:

These are areas where the built environment already supports walking and biking for short trips to some extent. These are generally places with a variety of destinations such as parks, schools, and commercial areas; a connected street grid; transit service; and a mix of housing types. These areas include the region’s existing and emerging WalkUPs, Livable Centers Initiative areas, CIDs and activity centers.
ARC will work closely with transit providers to improve access to transit stops and improve the quality and quantity of transit service between “mode shift opportunity zones” so that walking and bicycling can be easily combined with transit for longer regional trips.
ARC will adopt a strategy of “relentless incrementalism” to identify barriers to walking and biking in these areas and work to address them as opportunities arise.
ARC will pursue the creation of a regional trail system in partnership with state and local government agencies and non-profit organizations that are focused on trails, such as PATH Foundation. Importantly, some parts of the region that are not particularly conducive to walking or biking also have urgent safety and equity needs that ARC can help address immediately. These improvements should focus on decreasing pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries as well as providing sidewalks and bikeways for populations that rely on walking and biking.
Plan Details
Projected bike lane along 10th st. in Atlanta

The Atlanta Region’s Plan supports the development of bicycle infrastructure projects, such as this protected bike lane along 10th St. in Atlanta.

Map - Regional Trail System Concept

ARC’s Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan envisions linking many existing trails to create a regional trail network.

The Atlanta Region’s Plan also includes the Safe Streets for Walking & Bicycling plan, which provides a range of strategies to reduce serious injuries and deaths. The issue has taken on greater urgency in recent years, as the number of collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists in the Atlanta region has risen sharply, from 1,778 in 2006 to 2,900 in 2015, a 63% increase.

Safety measures that local governments can take to reduce injuries and deaths include:

  • Installing medians and pedestrian crossings
  • Enhancing crosswalk visibility
  • Building and improving sidewalks
  • Building separated bike lanes
  • Changing speed limits
  • Reducing number of lanes
  • Improving and installing street lighting
  • Installing traffic calming measures
Plan Details

By the Numbers

42 percent

…of people work within a 5-minute bike ride of an existing trail.

33 percent

…of people live within a 5-minute bike ride of a transit stop.

5 percent

…percent of all trips in the Atlanta region are made by bicycling or walking.



Meals on Wheels

The Atlanta Area Agency on Aging provides services that help people age in place, such as Meals on Wheels

The Atlanta region is experiencing a major demographic shift as baby boomers age and lifespans increase. By 2040, one in four residents will be age 60 or older, compared to one in seven in 2010.

The vast majority of older adults want to remain in their homes and in their communities as they age. But too often, people move to more institutional settings in order to get the services and support they need – particularly when driving ability is diminished.

ARC provides comprehensive services to older adults in the Atlanta region via its role as the federally designated Atlanta Area Agency on Aging. Services that help people remain in their communities include home-delivered meals, transportation to medical appointments and shopping, in-home support services. ARC also operates the Empowerline information and referral service.

There’s a financial benefit to aging in place, too. It is typically more cost-effective for older adults to remain in their homes than move to a long-term care facility.

  • Empowerline information and referral service
  • Senior center operations and group meals
  • Home-delivered meals
  • In-home support services
  • Transportation
  • Case management
  • Caregiver support
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Medicaid waivers
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Education and outreach

PLAN IN ACTION: Lifelong Communities

better sidewalks

Better sidewalks provide exercise, access to services and opportunities to socialize

ARC’s Lifelong Communities initiative helps guide efforts at the local level to create communities that meet the needs of residents of all ages and abilities. A Lifelong Community is a place that offers a variety of housing types and ways to get around that appeal to individuals both young and old, such as safe sidewalks, compact, low-maintenance housing options, and convenient access to shopping and transit.

ARC works with local government planners, developers and neighborhood leaders to update policies, such as housing codes and other regulations, to remove barriers might hinder the ability of individuals to be able to age in place. ARC also demonstrates and brings best practices to the local level, such as removing zoning that prohibits the placement of accessory dwellings in residential areas.

Staff continues to research and quantify the unique needs of rapidly aging communities and educate the marketplace about the demand for various housing options, along with needed services, within established communities.

  • Connectivity
  • Pedestrian access and transit
  • Neighborhood retail and services
  • Social interaction
  • Diversity of dwelling types
  • Healthy living
  • Consideration for existing residents

 It is the policy of ARC to:

  • Integrate public health into initiatives, programs and investment priorities
  • Identify opportunities for local food production, access to healthy food options and nutrition education
  • Support regional greenspace networks, which may include green
    infrastructure, to foster improved conservation and recreation spaces
  • Promote public safety efforts to create vibrant 24-hour communities