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Bright spots, physical activity investments that work—Complete Streets: redesigning the built environment to promote health
  1. Heather N Zaccaro,
  2. Emiko Atherton
  1. National Complete Streets Coalition, Smart Growth America, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
  1. Correspondence to Emiko Atherton, National Complete Streets Coalition, Smart Growth America, Washington, DC 20005, USA; eatherton{at}

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Programme card

  • Which of the seven best investments does the programme address?

    • Transport policies and systems, urban design regulations and infrastructure and community-wide programmes

  • What is the estimated programme reach?

    • Over 1100 communities across the USA have passed Complete Streets policies, and more policies are passed every year. This includes 33 states, 151 counties and regions, 236 cities, 443 suburbs and 276 small or rural towns.1 Collectively, these jurisdictions have hundreds of millions of residents, not counting commuters and other visiting users of the roads.

  • Which sectors does the programme involve?

    • The Complete Streets movement spans the public, private and non-profit sectors. The programme encompasses government policies and planning processes, private development projects and non-profit or community organisations that advocate for more inclusive transportation planning.

  • What is special about this programme?

    • Complete Streets policies modify the transportation planning process to increase access to opportunities for physical activity, thereby creating a built environment that promotes rather than impedes health.

  • Key contacts

    • Emiko Atherton, Director, National Complete Streets Coalition,

    • Heather Zaccaro, Health Programme Associate, National Complete Streets Coalition,


Features of the built environment can encourage or discourage physical activity. Research has shown that neighbourhoods with homes, jobs, schools and recreation centres within walking distance tend to …

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  • Contributors HNZ drafted the language of the editorial. EA provided substantial guidance in the planning and revision of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests Both authors are employed by the National Complete Streets Organization, which advocates for and assists with the implementation of Complete Streets.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.