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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 18, 2018

Active Transportation for Healthier Communities Conference in April

Conference focuses on latest active transportation strategies in the Midwest
Mar 26, 2018

Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission, in collaboration with Des Moines County Living Well, is bringing a one-day Active Transportation for Healthier Communities’ conference to Southeast Iowa.

The conference will focus on the latest active transportation strategies, including complete streets, pedestrian and biking infrastructure. The conference is April 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Center for Business (CBIZ) at River Park Place in Burlington, with time in the morning reserved for networking.

The conference will bring speakers, including city and transportation planners, engineers and public health experts to provide an overview of technical design for active transportation projects, success stories and best practices from the Midwest.

“We have some great speakers lined up for this conference. We are really excited for them to share their knowledge and experiences of what has been successful with active transportation with our communities here in Southeast Iowa,” said Zach James, Planning Director of the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission.

Sarah Taylor Watts will start the day with Reconnecting Urban Planning and Public Health, which will identify the impact of active transportation on nutrition and healthy lifestyles. Watts has been a Physical Activity Coordinator with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) for 14 years.

Shaun-Lopez Murphy, from Toole Design Group office in Madison, Wis., will feature two presentations. The first presentation, Introduction to Active Transportation, will address how to define active transportation and how it provides viable choices to walk and bike.

The following session, Technical design details overview of active transportation, will focus on roadway design features and examples of Midwestern communities using active transportation projects to improve walking and biking.

The midday speaker will be Andrew Fangman, with the presentation New Safety Efforts: four to three Lane Conversion. This presentation will focus on the City of Muscatine’s positive experiences with their road diet project to convert four-lane undivided roadways to a three-lane cross section.

Brian Willham will present Success and Lessons with New Bicycle Facilities: Des Moines Complete Streets Pilot Project. The presentation will be a discussion of current transportation planning efforts in Des Moines that are identifying opportunities to enhance transportation modes for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users.

The discussion will include partnerships with Public Health interests and a Pilot Project that was developed to convert seven blocks of a downtown street into a multimodal corridor. The Pilot includes shorter pedestrian crossings, enhanced transit stops, protected bike lanes, and narrower and fewer traffic lanes to slow vehicular traffic.

Heather Schady, Senior Transportation Planner from Active Transportation Alliance in Chicago, will discuss her experience around Pop-up demonstration of Complete Streets Project in suburban Cook County, Ill. municipalities. The presentation will provide a general overview of how the pop-up events work and the ideas behind them.

Following the presentation, Schady will guide a Street Design Activity and a Walking Tour, which will help the participants think critically about the built environment. The tour will help people understand transportation needs and why a community would want Complete Streets.

James will be the closing speaker with Great Networks Make Great Communities. He will discuss opportunities for the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission to assist in planning and building alternative transportation networks in Southeast Iowa communities.

The conference is intended for city and regional planners, community leaders, elected officials, public works professionals, engineers, health professional and active transportation advocates. Registration is free and includes lunch.

There will be five CM credits available for AICP planners through American Planning Association Iowa Chapter.

“Being active is important in helping to address several growing health concerns in our community including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said Jake Tanumihardjo, Community Coordinator for Des Moines County Living Well and Great River Health System.

“But being active can be a barrier for families who live in areas without sidewalks, bike lanes or other important infrastructure,” Tanumihardjo continued. “This type of event not only engages the health community but also the planning community on how we could address these growing concerns.”

The conference registration is online through Eventbrite at

For more information on the conference or to receive a registration brochure, contact Kansha Tiwari at 319-753-4312 or or Jake Tanumihardjo at 319-768-4025 or

The endorsement partners for the Active Transportation for Healthier Communities Conference are the Iowa Chapter — American Planning Association and Iowa Healthiest State Initiative.

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