Vital Community Design Practices

The built environment—the man-made physical structures and the infrastructure of communities—is an important, but often ignored, social determinant of health.

Community Design Tools

The Community-Design Tools section of this toolbox provides strategies can help bridge the gap between sprawling streetscapes and aging friendly public environments. The Community-Design Tools section of this toolbox provides community design strategies that move that provide “an architecture of place.” Local governments can develop subdivision regulations and design standards to enhance various modes of travel, connectivity, bicycle and pedestrian circulation, and installation of sidewalks. Communities make take on the responsibility of creating their own design standards (while in compliance with DelDOT and federal standards) for creating unique identities that provide a sense of place (e.g., historical, geographical, and cultural characteristics).

Local governments can also develop jurisdiction-specific community design guidelines to implement a vision of r an accessible, livable, and multimodal community. Communities should be designed to support high-density, mixed-use development, near neighborhood services and transit, which allow the opportunity for residents to meet all of their basic needs within a community. Community design guidelines may be adopted to achieve a distinct urban or town center, a variety of connected transportation options, public-gathering spaces, traffic calming measures, universal/accessible design, and a well-connected, grid street pattern.

Walkable Communities

The built environment—the man-made physical structures and the infrastructure of communities—is an important, but often ignored, social determinant of health. Studies show that individuals who live in built environments that provide safe, walkable access to and from destinations are more likely to engage in physical activity on a regular basis. There are several benefits to walkability in communities, including socialization between community members and increased mobility independence. Walkable communities also provide the obvious benefits of an active lifestyle and reduced costs of alternate transportation that people on fixed incomes cannot afford. People of all ages can benefit from walkable communities. IPA has developed a Healthy Communities Walkability Assessment Tool that provides Delaware municipalities a way to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the town’s walkability.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a civil rights law. It guarantees that people with disabilities have access to the “same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life—to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services.” ADA Title II applies to state and local government entities. Subtitle A of Title II protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in services, programs, and activities provided by public entities, including state and local governments. The U.S. Access Board has established ADA Accessibility Guidelines that focuses mainly on access to public facilities, buildings, and structures that are not located in the public right-of-way such as recreation facilities or a municipal council chamber. Public Rights-of-Way Guidance or PROWAG provides guidance to address conditions and constraints unique to public rights-of-way including sidewalks, curb ramps, and crosswalks that pose challenges to accessibility. The ADA Standards issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT) apply to facilities used by state and local governments to provide designated public transportation services, including accessible routes. While a Delaware local government many not be the provider of transit services, it may share responsibility for facilities that provide access to transportation such as bus stops and stations, bus boarding and alighting areas, and detectable warnings (e.g., truncated domes) on curb ramps. For more information about ADA, please visit the ADA webpage and the ADA section of this Toolbox.

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