CONTACT: Joe Conger, 210.207.5010
SAN ANTONIO (August 20, 2020) - You’re not the only one noticing more people taking walks or riding bikes in San Antonio’s neighborhoods during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of residents enjoying the outdoors has increased across the nation. Now, San Antonio has been nationally recognized for its efforts to make streets safer with a Gold Medal by CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente.
“San Antonio showed improvement and was one of only seven cities to advance its medal status to achieve gold,” said Katrina Forrest, JD, Co-Director of CityHealth. “This is a step forward, putting the city on a path for safer trips to schools, parks, markets, and businesses. Taking home gold means San Antonio is creating a healthier, more mobile and thriving community for generations to come.”
CityHealth, together with its partner Smart Growth America, reviews the nation’s largest 40 cities on Complete Streets policies, which are centered around road design, transportation and safe commuting. The results are published in an annual review, where San Antonio was one of 29 major U.S. cities to receive a gold medal for its Complete Streets policy.
“We’re proud of our Gold Medal for Complete Streets,” said Anthony Chukwudolue, Deputy Director, Public Works Department (PWD). “In the last two years, the Public Works Department has focused not only on re-engineering streets for the safety of our residents, we’ve made it clear that the policy moving forward is to consider pedestrians and micromobility in all of our projects across the City’s 4,000 miles of roadways.”
Cities were rated on everything from street lighting to the size of sidewalks, as well as the connections that are built between pedestrian paths, bike lanes and crosswalks to transportation networks.
Done right, these policies have a range of health and safety benefits, including reduced stress and economic well-being. Researchers have found that that well-designed streets reduce traffic speed, which in turn cuts the risk of injury for pedestrians and cyclists.
“We not only look at street design, we look at integrating the street into its surroundings,” added Chukwudolue. “If you look at our plans for portions of downtown San Antonio that have long been favorites for both shoppers and merchants, you’ll find we’ve added design features that complement those corridors (like Zona Cultural) to tap into the City’s heritage and culture, using mosaic patterns and paving stones to enhance sidewalks and leisure spaces for our pedestrians and commuters.”
Chukwudolue said the pandemic has created an opportunity for City leaders to innovate, as shown when some neighborhood streets were closed to thru-traffic to give residents a chance to venture outdoors, since so many recreational activities were curbed or canceled.
CityHealth also awarded new gold medals in Complete Streets to Louisville, Milwaukee, Tucson, Portland, Charlotte and Seattle.