Initiative for Healthy Infrastructure

About the Initiative for Healthy Infrastructure

The Initiative for Healthy Infrastructure (IHI) is a project of the UAlbany designed to help communities create physical environments that support healthy, active lifestyles.

"Healthy Infrastructure" is a new way of describing the connection between facilities for walking, bicycling and physical fitness as an integrated part of transportation, recreation and community quality of life.

The initiative includes teaching, research, policy development, public outreach and planning in a cross-disciplinary approach.

Specific efforts in the IHI program include developing county-level Healthy Infrastructure Plans, establishing a Resource Center to provide technical support, and hosting a biennial Healthy Infrastructure Conference.

Our Mission

Our mission is to facilitate statewide efforts that will create a physical environment which fosters healthy, active lifestyles. Our efforts include:

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Policy Environment
  • Public Outreach
  • Planning

The IHI team collaborates with health, community planning and transportation interests to apply health-oriented intervention models, such as diagnosis, prescriptions and diets in the development of public works programs that benefit active lifestyles.

IHI is supported by funding from the New York State Department of Health, in partnership with the SUNY Research Foundation and the UAlbany Department of Geography and Planning.

Our Director

Catherine Lawson
Catherine is an associate professor in UAlbany's Department of Geography and Planning Department. Her research interests lie in data rich environments, urban information systems and transportation issues.

Contact the Initiative for Healthy Infrastructure
Director Catherine T. Lawson
Arts & Sciences 218 (AS 218)

1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222
United States

Resource Center

Our Resource Center was developed to facilitate efforts of similar programs, including but not limited to Healthy Heart, Safe Routes to Schools, Eat Well Play Hard and other initiatives.

Our staff can also provide technical assistance for GIS, planning, grants programs and current infrastructure analysis.

In addition to these resources, the IHI is proud to act as a portal for information that supports our mission of healthy, sustainable and diverse transportation choices for all.


Initiative Resources

New York Planning & Policy Model

The New York Planning & Policy Model document contains information and potential policy models for consideration by agencies and communities throughout New York State.

These models are based on policies adopted by similar organizations in New York State and across the U.S. 

County-level Healthy Infrastructure Plans

These model plans will be developed in cooperation with county officials, health organizations, hospitals, insurers, public works agencies, recreation programs and community leaders. Counties will be selected from criteria developed to identify at-risk communities, with a target for a diverse range of urban, rural and suburban locations.

In the first year of the initiative, two prototype county plans were developed for Bronx and Otsego Counties. In the second year, plans were created for Orange, Essex, Tompkins and Albany counties. Plans for New York (Manhattan), Monroe, Ulster and Greene Counties are now available.

The following plans, which were last updated in 2009, are available for download:

City- & County-level Geographic Information System (GIS) Maps

We have completed Healthy Infrastructure GIS maps for most of New York's 62 counties, as well as the cities of Albany, Binghamton and Buffalo. Each has three separate maps, showing Education facilities, Medical Facilities, and Parks and Recreation Facilities.

Select a location below to bring up maps of its schools, hospitals and parks:

Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation Planning Course

The University at Albany is proud to have been the first University in the United States to offer a transportation planning course solely on bicycle and pedestrian issues.

Started in 1996, the course has shown many students the important link between transportation choice and energy, health and quality of life. Because of this course, many students have gone on to pursue careers dedicated to planning for non-motorized transportation.

IHI is proud to offer the lectures and material from the course for free. The syllabus and slides from Jeff Olson's Fall 2011 Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Planning course are available for download below:

Masters in Regional Planning (MRP) Studio Projects

The UAlbany Department of Geography & Planning's Masters in Regional Planning (MRP) program is proud of the studio work that its students produce each year.

The transportation element of each studio incorporates healthy infrastructures and planning for a wide variety of users. Several projects were completed under the guidance of previous IHI Co-director Jeff Olson.

Visit the Department's Masters in Regional Planning Studio Projects webpage to learn more.

Outside Resources

Complete Streets

A key factor contributing to the lack of physical activity in our country and specifically in New York State is the general lack of infrastructure to support pedestrian travel on foot and by bicycle.

The Complete Streets movement calls for the creation of road networks that routinely accommodate all travelers: drivers, transit users, pedestrians, bicyclists, older individuals, children, and people with disabilities.

This is done through the routine inclusion of accommodations such as bicycle lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, benches, street trees and shelters for public transit users.

The following documents were provided by the New York Bicycling Coalition:

Local communities who wish to know more, or build healthy infrastructure should call, fax or email IHI to receive information, technical assistance and guidance in support of their projects. 

For more information, please visit the Complete Streets webpage on the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) website and the DOT's 2014 New York State Complete Streets Report.