Disparities in Active Living Zoning Nationwide

Key takeaway:

  • The presence of different codified policies for infrastructure and community design that support active living varies, but overall these policies are less common in low-income communities and rural communities. 


  • Children were most likely to live in communities with requirements for pedestrian-friendly structural improvements (76%), passive recreation opportunities like open space (73%), and sidewalks (65%).
  • Children were least likely to live in communities with requirements for bike lanes (12%), mixed use zoning (15%), or crosswalks (21%).
  • In general, low-income communities or rural areas were less likely to have land use policies facilitating physical activity than mid/high-income communities or suburban/urban areas.
  • There were no significant patterns in policies by majority race/ethnicity of the community or U.S. region.


  • This brief analyzed zoning ordinances and subdivision regulations requiring infrastructure improvements to facilitate physical activity collected from 2010-2012 in 468 communities representing 900 jurisdictions from a nationally representative sample of public middle and high schools.


Thrun E, Chriqui JF, Slater SJ, Chaloupka FJ. (2016). Disparities in Active Living Zoning Nationwide. [Research Brief.] Chicago, IL: Bridging the Gap Program, Health Policy Center, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago.

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