On a hot day in June, Bill Freeman stood as a lone pedestrian on the corridor’s four-mile (6.4 km) route from the airport to downtown Boise. Other pedestrians choose other routes, opting to walk or ride on quiet blocks to the east and west of the main street, avoiding the avenue’s sun-parched sidewalks and narrow shoulders.
Ben Quintana, a member of Boise’s city council, wants to see Vista Avenue match the vitality and livability that attracted generations of transplants to the emerging urban hotspot and which retains long-term residents.
“This project is lifting up the idea that you can use health, healthy people, and healthy communities as a core value for reinventing these places,” says Urban Land Institute senior vice president Rachel MacCleery, who manages the Building Healthy Places Initiative.
“When you start thinking about health . . . you start thinking very carefully about infrastructure and social connections and social cohesion. And health really provides a powerful lens to rethink what these places can and should be,” MacCleery says.
And economic revitalization can naturally grow out of healthy communities. When people enjoy the aesthetics of their environment and feel safe, they are more likely to stick around, says Ed McMahon, one of the Institute’s senior resident fellows.