Fort Worth recognized nationally for community well-being

Published on June 28, 2021

Hard work, focused effort and years of partnership between Blue Zones Project and city leaders has once again put Fort Worth on a list of the highest performing cities in America when it comes to improving the day-to-day quality of life, well-being and health of its residents.

For the second consecutive year, Fort Worth has been recognized by CityHealth, a national initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, with an overall bronze medal for implementing evidence-based, health-focused policies. In the individual policy categories, Fort Worth received a gold medal for embracing a Complete Streets mentality in city planning efforts; a gold medal for tobacco policy; and silver medals for smoke-free indoor air and healthy food procurement efforts to earn the overall bronze.

National recognition at this scale is a badge of honor for Fort Worth and is the result of years of partnership between city leaders and Blue Zones Project. A well-being initiative brought to Fort Worth by the city, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Texas Health Resources and other local funders, Blue Zones Project worked with city leaders to design and implement significant policy initiatives. The goal: to make healthy choices easier citywide and make Fort Worth one of the safest, most accessible, equitable and walkable large cities in the United States.

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City planning efforts

Blue Zones Project engaged Dan Burden, a nationally recognized authority on bicycle and pedestrian facilities and programs, street corridor and intersection design, traffic flow and other design and planning aspects of roadway environments. Burden offered input and training for city staff that ultimately led to the adoption of a Complete Streets Policy in 2016. In 2019, the city went one step further by adopting an Active Transportation Plan to connect bicycle and pedestrian transportation systems and provide a safe network of trails, sidewalks and on-street bicycle facilities for people of all ages and abilities.

In 2021, Blue Zones Project — now fully under Texas Health’s nonprofit outreach arm, North Texas Healthy Communities — is bringing Burden back to provide ongoing education and training designed to keep that policy top of mind in all city planning efforts. Burden and the Blue Zones Project team will also lead walking audits to study corridors and intersections throughout the city that are high risk for pedestrian and bicycle crashes.

Meanwhile, Fort Worth has stepped up its internal efforts by restructuring a city department to house a regional mobility and innovation officer and adding a Complete Streets manager.

“Fort Worth is setting the bar for walkability, bicycling, placemaking and well-being. These hard-won honors in active transportation demonstrate that this community values people and place over car speed and development sprawl,” said Burden, director of innovation and inspiration for Blue Zones LLC. “Over the last eight years, Blue Zones has had the privilege of supporting and being witness to Fort Worth’s accomplishments in the built environment, proving itself with measurable outcomes as one of the best-organized communities in the nation to deliver a future that works for all.”

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In addition to the CityHealth award, Fort Worth was also recently recognized by the League of American Bicyclists with a bronze Bicycle Friendly Community award. Fort Worth joins 487 communities across the country in the movement for safer streets and better bicycling for everyone.

“These recent awards are more recognition that our city is committed to improving the quality of life of all who live and work here,” said Matt Dufrene, vice president of Blue Zones Project Fort Worth. “Blue Zones Project is proud to partner with our innovative city leaders as we work together to become one of the healthiest cities in the nation.”

Photo: Fort Worth’s bicycle and pedestrian transportation systems provide a safe network of trails, sidewalks and on-street bicycle facilities for people of all ages and abilities.

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