2012 - Research

Using Local Land Use Laws to Facilitate Physical Activity - A BTG Research Brief

This brief examines the extent to which local land use laws require structural improvements that facilitate physical activity. It also examines whether such requirements vary based on community income. The data was collected in 2010 from 264 communities across the United States.

  • Local zoning and land use laws specify allowable uses of land within a community to help guide new development and protect community resources. The laws may specify requirements for structural improvements, such as adding or maintaining sidewalks, bike lanes, or open space, that affect residents’ ability to be physically active.
  • This brief examines the extent to which local land use laws require structural improvements that facilitate physical activity. It also examines whether such requirements vary based on community income. The data was collected in 2010 from 264 communities across the United States.
  • Policy requirements for open space and pedestrian-friendly improvements, such as sidewalks and crosswalks, are more common than requirements for trails, bike lanes, or active recreation areas, such as playgrounds and sports fields.
  • Lower- and middle-income communities are less likely than higher-income communities to require pedestrian-friendly improvements, active recreation areas, open space, trails and bike lanes in their local land use law

Thrun E, Chriqui JF, Slater SJ, Barker DC, and Chaloupka FJ. Using Local Land Use Laws to Facilitate Physical Activity - A BTG Research Brief. Chicago, IL: Bridging the Gap Program, Health Policy Center, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2012.