Des Moines, Iowa, and Nashville, Tenn. (April 14, 2014) – Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) and Blue Zones, LLC, today announced that Blue Zones Project® demonstration sites in Cedar Falls, Muscatine and Waterloo, Iowa, have been included on the National Complete Streets Coalition list of the best Complete Streets policies in the United States. The three communities are ranked among the top 15 of 80 U.S. communities that passed Complete Streets policies in 2013. Promoting active transportation options in a community can boost physical activity, street safety, community attractiveness and recreation opportunities, contributing to the overall well-being of residents.
“Our roadways have a significant influence on the livability and well-being of our communities, and instituting a Complete Streets policy ensures that the entire roadway is designed and operated with all users in mind, including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians,” said Blue Zones project director Mary Lawyer. “These three Blue Zones Project demonstration communities have invested considerable time and resources in prioritizing Complete Streets policies, and their efforts are serving as a model for other Iowa communities and for the nation.”
Brought to Iowa in 2011 through an innovative sponsorship by Wellmark in collaboration with Healthways and Blue Zones, the Blue Zones Project encourages all Iowa communities to change their built environments to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
Promotion of active transportation options through policy adoption is one component of the Blue Zones Community Policy® pledge. Blue Zones Project demonstration sites in Iowa have benefited from expert assistance in walkability, including community walking audits conducted by the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute and Complete Streets workshops in conjunction with the University of Iowa.
“Investment in active transportation of this level can increase land values exponentially,” said Dan Burden, executive director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute. “It will differentiate Cedar Falls, Muscatine and Waterloo from cities that are focusing resources on increasing vehicle capacity alone.”
The National Complete Streets Coalition, a program from Smart Growth America, annually analyzes all Complete Streets policies adopted in the United States, scoring every policy on its effectiveness in making roads safer and more accessible for everyone who uses them. Complete Streets policies ensure that transportation planners and engineers consider all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians, when designing or redesigning a roadway.
“We are very proud to have our community recognized by the National Complete Streets Coalition and Smart Growth America,” said Andrew Fangman, Muscatine city planner. "When the people of Muscatine were asked to share their vision of an ideal Muscatine, it became clear that one of the most important goals was to have the opportunity to travel safely to and from their destination by foot, bike or other non-motorized means. The adopted Complete Streets policies will serve as a critical tool in bringing this goal to fruition, as well as help Muscatine achieve Blue Zones Project Community certification.”
“As a longtime Muscatine resident and participant in a Blue Zones Project walking moai group, I have a personal interest in creating roads that are safer and more livable,” said Muscatine resident Micki Tripp. “The commitment made by our local leaders to make our streets more welcoming to everyone in the community demonstrates great vision and will lead to enhanced well-being for Muscatine residents now and for future generations.”
Wellmark, Inc. (http://www.wellmark.com/) does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
About Blue Zones
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company's work is rooted in the New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive – both published by National Geographic books. In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40%. Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being, which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones Project is based on this innovative approach. For more information, visit http://www.bluezones.com/.
Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 45 million people on four continents. Learn more at http://www.healthways.com/.