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Glossary

This glossary incorporates terminology commonly used when discussing issues around the built environment. It may be useful for you to review, learn and understand these technical terms as they will help you better understand the issues and help you talk to officials and make your case.

Accessible
Accessible facilities are those that can be reached, used and traversed by people of all ages and abilities without difficulty.
Active Transportation
Also known as Non-Motorized Transportation and Human-Powered Transportation, includes walking, bicycling and small-wheeled transport.
Bicycle Facilities
Facilities designed to accommodate bicycle travel for recreational or commuting purposes.
Built Environment
The human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, production and consumption. The built environment consists of houses, office buildings, roads and entire cities.
Charette
Any collaborative session in which a group of designers drafts a solution to a design problem.
Complete Streets
Designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities must be able to safely move along and across a complete street.
Comprehensive Plan
A document containing text and maps that lays out a municipality's general development strategy, position on population growth, infrastructure needs and community issues, among other topics.
Connectivity
A measure of how well transportation facilities (such as roads and sidewalks) are connected to each other and to important destinations.
Curb Cut
Also known as a Curb Ramp, a curb cut is a short ramp installed where a sidewalk meets a road to create a smooth transition between the two surfaces rather than a steep drop of several inches.  Curb cuts are especially essential for sidewalk users such as bicyclists, pedestrians with limited mobility, and those using wheelchairs or strollers.
Focus Groups
A form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement or idea.
Formative Research
The basis for developing effective strategies, including communication channels, for influencing behavior change.
Greenway
A corridor of undeveloped land, usually including some kind of trail or pathway that is provided for recreational purposes and/or environmental protection.
Health Impact Assessment (HIA)
A combination of procedures, methods and tools by which a policy, program or project may be judged as to its potential effects on the health of a population, and the distribution of those effects within the population.
Land Use
Refers to the division and usage of natural land for various human purposes. In planning terms, land use usually refers to the designation of land space for discrete purposes, through ordinances or zoning codes, such as commercial, residential or industrial development. Land use can also connote the physical quantity of land that is consumed for human purposes, rather than left as wilderness.
Mixed-Use Development
The practice of creating physically separated land uses by providing areas where residences, commercial buildings and businesses are located within close proximity to each other.
Multimodal
The availability of transportation options using various modes (such as automobile, bicycle and pedestrian) within a system or corridor.
New Urbanism
A movement that recognizes walkable, human-scaled neighborhoods as the building blocks of sustainable communities and regions. New Urbanism stresses the importance of street patterns, transportation options and building siting in creating sustainable communities.
Safe Routes to School
A federally-funded and state-administered program that encourages local schools and jurisdictions to undertake projects that will encourage children to walk or bicycle to school and to make such trips safer.
School Siting
The place where a school structure or group of structures was, is or will be located.
Smart Growth
Land-use development practices that create more resource-efficient and livable communities, with more accessible land-use patterns; an alternative to sprawl.
Systems Change
The process of improving the capacity of the public health system to work with many sectors to improve the health status of all people in a community.
Walkability
Walkability is often measured according to the environmental, health, financial and safety benefits offered to pedestrians within a community.  More broadly, walkability is a measure of how conducive an environment is to walking.