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Built Environment

Many communities need more safe and accessible places to walk or be active outdoors. Approximately 36.8% of adults living in Indiana were obese in 2020, and less than 50% of adult Indiana residents met moderate physical activity recommendations in 2019. Current research points to the fact that people who live in car-dependent environments walk less, weigh more, and suffer from related chronic diseases such as hypertension (high blood pressure).

Complete Streets

Complete Streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users—pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation users of all ages and abilities can safely move along and across a Complete Street. Communities are encouraged to adopt their own Complete Streets policies and to design and retrofit their communities using a Complete Streets approach, making walking and biking the safe and easy choice.

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), IDOH and Health by Design have promoted the adoption of Complete Streets policies in Indiana and have been actively engaged in increasing the number of cities adopting Complete Streets policies.

Active Living Workshops  guidebook

IDOH created a program to fund and facilitate a series of Active Living Workshops across Indiana to address the need to create more active communities. For this program, DNPA is currently partnering with INDOT and  Health by Design, a statewide coalition that works at the intersection of the built environment and public health to conduct these day-long workshops. Purdue University Extension Service also provided funding and staff support for some of the workshops in the past.

From 2014 to 2022, DNPA and its partners conducted  50 Active Living Workshops across Indiana. More than 1,800 community stakeholders—including city planners, engineers, public health professionals, school administrators and community leaders—attended these workshops. The participants agreed to a year-long set of follow-up activities, including drafting an action plan, providing status reports and reporting success stories outlining each community’s achievements.

The Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity (DNPA) and Health by Design has recently published the Indiana Active Living Guidebook. This guidebook describes the reason we promote this work in Indiana and includes a step-by-step approach that communities can use to increase the levels of physical activity for their residents. It also includes success stories from communities across Indiana that are making it easier to be active in their everyday lives.

Visit Health by Design’s website to learn more about their part of the Active Living movement.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Grant Program

DNPA created a planning grant program beginning in 2014 t to fund the preparation and adoption of bicycle and pedestrian plans for towns, cities and counties throughout Indiana.  Communities are selected through competitive applications to receive the planning funds. The planning process typically includes the creation of a local advisory committee, a public input process and an inventory of existing bicycle and pedestrian facilities and policies, along with recommendations to increase the development of bicycle and pedestrian networks. 

Through 2022, DNPA has provided a total of over $500,000 in grant funding to 28 communities to prepare the plans. The plans covered a population of over 600,000 people throughout the state and included more than $600 million in total planned bicycling and walking improvements. 

DNPA continues to fund bicycle and pedestrian planning grants on a rolling basis, depending on available funding. Please see the Grants and Resources section of the DNPA web page for more information on current grant opportunities for this program.

Tactical Urbanism Demonstration Project Grant Program

In 2019 DNPA created a new grant program to fund quickly implemented, low-cost demonstration projects that increase safe access to everyday destinations for walking and biking. These projects typically include temporary installations such as traffic calming improvements, temporary street closures, and pop-up bike lanes.

These projects became especially popular during the COVID-19 pandemic as people were seeking opportunities to be active in outdoor public places and communities needed to provide safer access to public lands. Tactical urbanism projects provide a way for communities to test these new ideas and increase safe access to public places to be active.

Through 2022 DNPA has funded 21 tactical urbanism demonstration projects throughout the state, providing over $150,000 in total funding for the program.

Built Environment/Physical Activity Resources

  • Health by Design – Indiana coalition working to create an environment that promotes physical activity and protects the environment through education, advocacy and action.
  • Active Living Research – The evidence base to prevent childhood obesity and promote active communities.
  • Indiana Active Living Guidebook – This guidebook is intended to be used by anyone interested in changing the built environment of their community to improve public health.
  • Bicycle Indiana – A statewide organization that focuses on promoting, educating and advocating for bicycling in Indiana. Bicycle Indiana develops an annual resource guide for bicycling events throughout the state, educates children and adults about bicycle safety and advocates for better infrastructure and better treatment of cyclists.


Pete Fritz, Healthy Communities Planner
(317) 234-6808
Contact for Complete Streets, Built Environment, Tactical Urbanism, Community Planning