Securing urban mobility of an ageing population


Physical activity plays an important role for healthy ageing. Total daily physical activity can be increased by walking and cycling for transport. Especially older people spend most of their spare time in their neighbourhood. There is compelling evidence that features of the built environment have a crucial impact on physical activity in terms of accessibility of green spaces and the option to use public urban space as well as on the provision of social infrastructure and local supply. The renewal and revitalization belongs to the most important spheres of activity of urban planning. Promotion of physical activity by urban planners may occur through plans that consider population density, diversity of land use, and street connectivity. Urban planning has further an important coordinating role for space related requirements. This is the starting-point of the AFOOT project.


This subproject aims to initialize a strategic linkage of urban development and public health strategies as an intervention to meet mobility requirements of older adults in small and medium sized towns. AFOOT will identify topics at the intersection of environment, social inequalities, public health, and urban planning which are relevant for promotion of physical activity. A key objective is to identify local urban strategies and determine indicators for walkability so that entry points for health and equity assessment in urban planning procedures can be assessed. Furthermore it is to analyse how theory (from urban planning and public health) gets into practice of implementing health issues into local urban development strategies and which obstacles exist. Finally, a guideline for intersectoral policy actions will be developed which takes the institutional and administrative framework of urban planning and public health as well as limited communal financial resources into account.


For this purpose, document analysis from the perspective of urban planning and public health were carried out and interviews of public health authorities and environment agencies additionally lead to a joint elaboration of indicators on the interface of public health and urban planning. Subsequently, workshops and role-playing games were performed to simulate the implementation of the theoretical framework.


The final product of the project is a guide for intersectoral collaboration of local urban planning and health departments. It supports small and medium-sized towns to design age-friendly environments which foster walking and cycling in old age.

The guide

  • raises awareness for an age-friendly local development
  • indicates entry points in the planning and health sectorr
  • presents indicators for a state analysis and the evaluation of interventions
  • introduces strategies of action for (1) open spaces and places, (2) walking and cycling infrastructure and (3) destination accessibility.

Download of the german and english version of the guide can be found here.

Research team

- Public Health -

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Bolte, University of Bremen, Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research (IPP) (Head of project)
Tanja BrĂ¼chert, M.A. PH, University of Bremen, Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research (IPP)

- Urban Planning -
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sabine Baumgart, TU Dortmund University, Faculty of Spatial Planning
Paula Quentin, M.Sc., TU Dortmund University, Faculty of Spatial Planning