New ULI Survey Shows Many Coloradans Face Barriers to a Healthy Lifestyle Due to Community Design and Land Use Factors
November 20, 2015
For more information, contact Trish Riggs at 202-624-7086
DENVER (November 20, 2015) — A new survey from the Urban Land Institute (ULI), Colorado in 2015: A ULI Survey of Views on Housing, Transportation and Community, reports that a significant number of Colorado residents face barriers to a healthy and active lifestyle due to community design and land use patterns that make walking, cycling, and recreational opportunities difficult. Despite Colorado’s reputation as one of the healthiest states in the nation, 52 percent of the survey’s respondents said that it is too far for them to walk to shopping and entertainment, and 42 percent said that the bike lanes in their communities are insufficient. In addition, 34 percent said that their communities lack outdoor spaces for exercise.
The survey identified low-income and Latino residents as the demographic groups most likely to experience these barriers and feel a sense of dissatisfaction with their communities. Nearly half (49 percent) of Latinos reported that their neighborhoods lacked outdoor recreational spaces (compared with 31 percent of white respondents), while 58 percent of Latinos responded that their neighborhoods lacked sufficient bike lanes (compared with 40 percent of white residents). Among respondents making less than $25,000 per year, 47 percent said that their neighborhoods lacked outdoor spaces while 54 percent said more bike lanes are needed in their communities.
The results stand in contrast to what Coloradans say they value and want in terms of housing, transportation, and community amenities. For example, 52 percent of respondents said they would prefer to live in a place where they would not need to use a car often. In addition to a car-optional lifestyle, other community attributes that respondents said were either a high or a top priority included: the quality of the environment (87 percent), access to healthy food (79 percent), green space (64 percent), and walkability (58 percent).
The report was discussed today by ULI Chief Content Officer and Executive Vice President Kathleen Carey and the Colorado Health Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Karen McNeil-Miller at Healthy Places, Healthy People: Building a Healthier Colorado in 2015 and Beyond, a program sponsored by ULI Colorado, which serves ULI members throughout the state. “This report demonstrates that even in states like Colorado, which is known throughout the world for its outdoor recreational opportunities and natural beauty, there is a significant gap between the healthy lifestyles people desire and their everyday reality. Such gaps can create barriers to walking, cycling, accessing fresh food, and other forms of health-promoting activity,” Carey said. “These findings can serve as a wake-up call and guide to public and private sector leaders across the state to use community design and land use as tools to improve the health outcomes of all Coloradans, regardless of income, age, or ethnicity.”
“We know health goes well beyond visits to a doctor’s office. It is greatly influenced by our environment and the conditions we face on a daily basis,” noted McNeil-Miller. “The Colorado in 2015 report gives Coloradans across the state the opportunity to share what’s important to them and their families in terms of where they live, work and play. It also underscores the fact that community design both contributes to and can reverse troubling health trends. Findings from the report provide a unique insight that can help guide our state’s leaders in health and land use in making thoughtful and informed decisions that can positively impact the health of Coloradans for generations to come.”
Colorado in 2015 is based on interviews with 700 Colorado adults that were conducted in January and February to produce a companion to America in 2015, a national survey of community, housing, and transportation preferences released by ULI in March. Colorado in 2015 was undertaken to better understand current lifestyles, preferences, and aspirations among different generational, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups within Colorado in order to provide stakeholders and decision-makers accurate information to better serve, retain, and attract residents.
Survey responses were grouped according to the generational cohorts of Millennials (18-36 year olds), Generation X (37-49 year olds), baby boomers (50-68 year olds), and the war/silent generation (69 and older), as well as by income groups, ranging from those who make less than $25,000 per year to those making over $75,000 per year. Distinct community types (rural, small-town, suburban, medium-size cities, and big cities) as well as geographical regions—the West, Southeast, North, Adams/Arapahoe Counties, Western suburbs of Denver, and Denver County—were also analyzed in the report.
Colorado in 2015 and related reports were supported by the Colorado Health Foundation, which has partnered with ULI on other initiatives focused on improving health outcomes through land use decision-making. These initiatives include a series of health-focused Advisory Services panels held in Colorado in 2013, which focused on rural, suburban, and urban communities.
“Our partnership with the Colorado Health Foundation has yielded actionable research and thought leadership that can vitally serve decision-makers as they increasingly use health as a lens through which to make their cities, towns, and neighborhoods more livable, economically competitive, and sustainable for future generations,” Carey said.
Among other significant findings in the report related to housing and community choice and satisfaction:
- Millennials in Colorado are more likely to move than the population as a whole, with 70 percent saying a move is somewhat or very likely within the next five years. Twenty-nine percent of Coloradans said they were very likely to move.
- Thirty-two percent of Coloradans currently live in the suburbs, but only 22 percent would choose to live there in five years if they could live anywhere.
- Renters expressed the highest rate of dissatisfaction with their housing options, with 26 percent saying there were somewhat or very dissatisfied, compared with 15 percent of all Coloradans.
NOTE TO EDITORS AND REPORTERS: To speak with a ULI expert about the report and the survey findings, contact Trish Riggs at 202-679-4557 (cell).
About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (uli.org) is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 37,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.
About the Colorado Health Foundation
The Colorado Health Foundation works to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation by ensuring that all Colorado kids are fit and healthy and that all Coloradans achieve stable, affordable and adequate health coverage to improve their health with support from a network of primary health care and community services. To advance our mission, the Foundation engages the community through grantmaking, public policy and advocacy, private sector engagement, strategic communications, evaluation for learning and assessment and by operating primary care residency training programs. For more information, please visit www.ColoradoHealth.org.