At the beginning of Phase 1 of the Active Living Program, we implemented a resident survey to determine the direction of the project. This survey identified valuable demographics about the residents of north Fort Collins mobile home parks. Of the survey respondents, the majority of people prefer to speak Spanish; 75% of residents have lived in the mobile home parks for 5 or more years; 84% are ethnically Hispanic, Latinx, or Spanish and 14% identify as racially white, and 43% of residents are making less than $25,000 annually. From the survey we gained information about resident bicycling and walking habits, as well as, barriers and incentives to active living practices.
Comparing findings from the 2019-2020 survey to those from the 2017 survey gives insights into program successes and future directions to promote active living. Between the 2017 and 2019-20 surveys, there were decreases in residents’ concerns with biking and walking in their neighborhood. This suggests that the new lighting and sidewalks have benefitted residents’ ability to lead an active lifestyle. However, many respondents indicated that there are still improvements they desire. This may indicate that improvements made through the grant, particularly new lighting and sidewalks, have benefitted residents’ ability to lead an active lifestyle, but that additional improvements could maximize the potential of these infrastructural changes.
Providing access to bicycles can result in a direct improvement in health, thus, continued improvements could be focused on increasing bicycle access. To reduce fears of getting hit by a car, a bike lane could be installed or, as relevant, sidewalks could be added or improved to promote walking and wheelchair rolling. Also, providing brighter and more lights throughout the neighborhood could make residents feel safer to be active at night; the City of Fort Collins Neighborhood Services award for safety lighting will address this concern and serve as an incentive to active living.
To better understand the challenges and concerns that these neighborhoods are facing in leading more active lifestyles, expanding on the 2019-20 survey results, it would be valuable to further explore the following questions:
- What barriers are preventing residents from knowing how to ride a bicycle? What incentives would encourage them to learn?
- What challenges are inhibiting bicycle owners’ maintenance of their bikes—for example, financial barriers, a lack of resources/knowledge, etc.? What incentives would promote bicycle up-keep?
- What specific factors make biking, walking, and wheelchair rolling difficult or easy—for example, lack of sidewalks or bike lanes, under-maintained sidewalks, heavy traffic, hilly terrain, etc.? How do these factors compare within the neighborhood versus outside of the neighborhood?
- What infrastructural changes (for example, sidewalks, signage, etc.) will most promote physical activity in the neighborhood?