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Active Transportation Plan Aims to Get Residents Moving Safely
By Hugo Salgado, Community Health Program Specialist
The Healthy Cities, Healthy Residents program is funded by the County of San Diego’s CalFresh Healthy Living program and was implemented through a contract with Vista Community Clinic in the cities of Oceanside, Escondido and Vista.
Vista Community Clinic staff coordinated a Healthy Cities, Health Residents coalition comprising residents, city officials, business owners, and community-based organizations in each city. The goal of each coalition was to promote relationship-building, cross-sector partnerships, and community engagement to make sustainable changes in city planning and policies that help increase physical activity among residents. Walking, biking, roller skating/roller blading, and other forms of human-powered active travel (known as “active transportation”) are some ways to help increase physical activity.
On Oct. 1, 2020, Vista Community Clinic recruited Poder Popular (a community advocacy group of residents under Vista Community Clinic in Vista), business owners, city officials, and other stakeholders, to assemble the Healthy Cities, Health Residents Vista Coalition, known as the Healthy Vista Coalition. It quickly began working together with the County’s CalFresh Healthy Living team and Healthy Cities, Health Residents contractor and planning agency Alta Planning and Design to identify the kind of policy that would fulfill stakeholders’ needs.
Through capacity-building, community engagement and data analysis, including pedestrian/bicycle-involved collisions, the Healthy Vista Coalition decided that the best course of action would be to develop an Active Transportation Plan (ATP). ATPs are a comprehensive collection of policies, programs, recommendations, and funding mechanisms that can increase active transportation and physical activity and improve public health.
In Vista, the Townsite neighborhood houses a large, low-income Spanish-speaking, immigrant, and renter community with corridors that connect residents to public schools, grocery stores, community clinics, parks and public transportation. Townsite however, has been negatively impacted by poor infrastructure leading to challenges with active transportation (walking, biking, etc.). Vehicle collisions with pedestrians, a lack of pedestrian visibility, lack of sidewalks, poor lighting, and improper traffic signage, among other factors, have all been reported by residents, setting in motion Healthy Vista Coalition’s decision to make the ATP specific to the Townsite neighborhood.
Engaging the community was a top priority throughout Townsite’s ATP planning process. Members of Poder Popular, known as Líderes Comunitarios or Líderes, were a crucial part of the Healthy Vista Coalition, identifying the many challenges of walking and biking in Townsite. Engagement also included extensive coordination with partner agencies and various city departments to ensure the ATP met community needs, advanced initiatives of local and regional partners, and included projects and programs that could feasibly be implemented.
The completion of the ATP in August 2022 was the three-year culmination of all these efforts. Following completion, the Healthy Vista Coalition shifted to seek support for the Townsite ATP from the Vista City Council. After a few meetings, city staffed accepted the plan and agreed to use the document as a reference when identifying and applying for community-driven projects.
In addition to referring to the document, the city welcomes residents’ feedback and participation in projects already in development as well as grant application processes.
Read about the Active Transportation Plan here.