Transforming city streets to promote physical activity and health equity

Keshia M.Pollack Porter, Tyler Prochnow, Patricia Mahoney, Haley Delgado, Christina N.Bridges Hamilton, Emily Wilkins, M. Renée Umstattd Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Most US cities lack built environments that support physical activity, which is a key determinant of health. Making permanent changes to the physical environment to promote physical activity is not always feasible. Play Streets is a place-based intervention that is typically organized by local governments or community organizations and involves temporarily closing streets to create safe places and free opportunities for physical activity. In this descriptive study we examined 162 of Chicago’s PlayStreets, held in the summer of 2018, to assess the volume and type of physical activity among youth participants and the variety of services provided to residents. We analyzed implementation data and forms completed after PlayStreets, and we conducted systematic observations at a purposeful sample of PlayStreets. We found that PlayStreets provides opportunities for youth physical activity in areas where opportunities do not otherwise always exist. PlayStreets also provides an avenue for residents to access community resources. This research on Chicago’s experience with PlayStreets showed how one city is temporarily turning streets into places for youth physical activity to advance health equity. Local policies that facilitate temporarily closing streets and that provide resources to support opportunities for physical activity and access to community resources can advance health equity in cities nationwide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1475-1483
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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