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Active Living by Design

‘Active Living by Design, not Privilege’ simply means designing regions, towns and neighborhoods to promote physical activity for all residents, regardless of means or ability. Homes and businesses are built close to existing retail centers, restaurants, and community services such as a post office or library, creating a ‘complete neighborhood’. Neighborhoods are connected to retail centers with safe and accessible streets, bike lanes, sidewalks, multi-use paths, and/or trails that form a complete transportation network. Active living communities also provide plenty of affordable places for recreation and social interaction, including parks, plazas, community centers, and trails.

The way active living communities are designed is context-dependent, meaning that a more ‘urban community’ - such as Eureka - may have different design elements than a ‘non-metropolitan community’ such as Loleta, Hoopa, or Willow Creek. Urban areas may have multiple retail centers that are easily accessible by sidewalks and bike lanes; non-metropolitan areas may have businesses and retail clustered in one central location that is accessible by a multi-use trail, or that encourages physical activity because the design allows residents to park their car once and walk to other nearby destinations.

Take a look below to see some of the local, innovative design elements that encourage physical activity in Humboldt County neighborhoods and communities.


Community Spotlight: Henderson Center, Eureka

“Henderson Center” in Eureka is connected to nearby neighborhoods by walking, biking, or by taking one of four Eureka City bus lines that stop at Harris and F Street. In addition, those who drive to the area can park once and walk to access the numerous goods and services available.

Design Concept: Creating a Pedestrian Destination

Community Spotlight: Town Square, Garberville

Pedestrian destinations provide incentives for residents and visitors to choose walking and cycling over other transportation options.  The Garberville Town Square project, located at the corner of Church and Locust Streets one block off of Main Street (map), grew out of a recognized need for a shared civic space for activities, festivals, and the Southern Humboldt farmer’s market.

Design Concept: Converting a Highway into a Mainstreet

Community Spotlight: Downtown Willow Creek

Many non-metropolitan communities have highways that also serve as main streets.  Traditional highway planning has left little room for aesthetic and livability considerations, instead focusing on moving motorized traffic quickly and efficiently.  The Willow Creek Scenic Highway and Downtown Enhancement (SHADE) Project (map) grew out of the recognition that improvements to the aesthetics and walkability of Willow Creek’s downtown area were essential to the health and vitality of the community.

Design Concept: Multi-Use Trails

Multi-use trails provide non-motorized recreation and commuting options for residents and visitors, and provide safer linkages between communities and neighborhoods than sidewalks and class II/III bike routes that share access with motorized traffic.  The Hammond Coastal Trail provides multi-use trail benefits to the central Humboldt coast communites in Northern California.

Design Concept: Community Planning Promotes Active Living

Community Spotlight: City of Arcata

Best practices in community planning can promote and encourage walking and biking for both recreation and commuting. The planning documents created by local governments spell out the values residents want the city to support through the allocation of staff time, funding, and other resources. The City of Arcata weaves active living into many planning efforts, ensuring that the community’s focus includes physical activity in many projects from multiple angles.