Active Mobility as a Means to Promote Positive Health

Year: 2020-2021

Client: Rotterdam Municipality

Partners: DRIFT

Healthy Mobility with the Neighborhood

Every city wants to be an active city, but making it happen is a major challenge. Active citizens are becoming a bit more active, but cities are less successful in reaching inactive people. We know from our own research that specific target groups are very difficult to reach with traditional exercise and sports programs. This project explored ways how active mobility, walking & cycling, can be used as a means to create a healthy neighborhood where being healthy is part of the daily routine.


Walking and cycling make exercise accessible, something that is part of daily life, the normal. Active mobility gets you where you want to be in a healthy way, but it also creates the opportunity for spontaneous encounters, moments for yourself sitting on a bench in the park, new discoveries. Active mobility connects people, routes and places in a casual way. 


Good health policies cannot be separated from the design and management of public space. The physical environment must provide the basic quality for healthy behavior (places to meet and exercise, etc.), but also sufficient space for personal development and meaning. The challenge is to understand which spatial interventions, programs and activities yield the best results at what time in order to achieve a healthy neighborhood with a local walking and cycling culture.


At the start of the project it quickly became clear that a large part of the solution to the complexity lies in connecting different domains and in closer cooperation, both between people within the municipality and with the neighborhood. Together with our partner DRIFT, we created a co-learning process based on two levels: developing the program with the neighborhood and the process of better collaboration. 


In order to analyze the social and the physical infrastructure in the neighborhood we did an extensive spatial analysis, 15 minutes accessibility analysis, conducted interviews with local front runners, and produced an intervention in the neighborhood to facilitate a conversation about what makes people move. By setting the conditions to work together, based on the spatial knowledge and deep locally sourced insights, we created a methodology that helps the municipality deal with the complexity of setting up a local healthy mobility culture.