Decreasing Car Dependence
The Redstone Center recognizes the importance of community design in reducing chronic disease and growing healthy communities
This includes investments in the built environment that make it easy and safe for residents to walk, bike, or take public transportation to work, school, and play; offer access to green space, parks, and places to gather and recreate; and ensure affordable housing is available for people of all income levels.
Healthy community design improves physical and mental health by:
Promoting Physical Activity
Improving Air Quality
Increasing Social Connection
Reducing GHG Emissions
Sustainable transportation infrastructure plays a critical role in public health and climate resiliency and mitigation. Twenty-two percent of the District’s carbon emissions come from the transportation sector, with the vast majority of sector emissions coming from single-occupancy vehicles. These vehicles also generate air pollution that leads to significant (and disparate) health effects.
Recent research from the GW School of Public Health found that Wards 7 and 8 have the highest levels of air pollution, which contribute to the highest rates of asthma-related emergency department visits and premature deaths related to air pollution. Reductions in vehicle trips will improve health equity by reducing exposure of marginalized communities to poor air quality, reduce GHG emissions, and increase physical activity, thereby preventing and mitigating chronic diseases like obesity and heart disease.
To achieve the necessary reductions in vehicle trips, Redstone supports policies and investments in infrastructure that improve Metro rail and bus service, and that support physically active transport through safe streets for walking and biking.
Access to Green Space
Parks and green space are especially effective double-duty solutions for climate and health. They foster physical activity, thereby improving health; they mitigate the urban heat island effect caused by climate change; they improve air quality; and they capture carbon. For these reasons, parks and green space should be a central component of the District’s climate resilience and mitigation strategy. While the District boasts significant quantities of parkland, much of this green space is underused due to poor maintenance and design that impedes access.
The Redstone Center is currently at work on a policy brief on how the District could increase investment in and improve maintenance of its green spaces to fully realize their benefits, including physical and mental health as well as improved community safety. It has also emphasized the importance of designating green space for non-motorized users.