Coalitions, Alliances, and Partnerships

Coalitions and alliances are groups that form for mutual benefit. Partnerships are relationships between individuals or groups characterized by mutual cooperation and responsibility. These groups form for the achievement of shared goals. Creating change to improve safety and increase the number of people walking requires a multi-disciplinary effort. The likelihood of success increases when coalitions or partnerships bring together dedicated individuals including:

  • Law enforcement officials, including officers and members of the judiciary
  • Health industry, including doctors, nurses, dieticians, and health educators
  • People in transportation and development, including engineers, planners, developers
  • Parents, senior citizens, schools, parks and recreation departments

The cooperation of public and private interests, professionals, businesses, and interested citizens can yield broad support for multi-faceted solutions to pedestrian problems. These groups exist at local and national levels. Many of them can serve as models for a local organization, or they may have members from your community.

National coalitions, alliances and partnerships

America Walks
America Walks is a national coalition of local advocacy groups dedicated to promoting walkable communities. The group helps communities form advocacy groups. Members are autonomous grassroots organizations from across the country, each working to improve conditions for walking in their area. The mission of America Walks is to foster the development of community-based pedestrian advocacy groups, to educate the public about the benefits of walking, and, when appropriate, to act as a collective voice for walking advocates. America Walks provides a support network for local pedestrian advocacy groups. The group offers advice about how to get started and how to be effective with public officials and engineering and design professionals.
Alliance for Biking and Walking
The Alliance for Biking and Walking is a national coalition of state and local bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations. The group's mission is to create, strengthen and unite state and local bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations.
Safe Communities
Safe Communities, a project of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is a national organization dedicated to creating local community coalitions to prevent motor vehicle injuries, the leading cause of death for each age group from five through 27.

As Safe Communities emphasizes, expanded partnerships with representatives of the business community, health community, and government agencies are an important step in creating community involvement to seek solutions. Developing new alliances among traditional highway and traffic safety advocates also serves to better promote Safe Community practices and make gains in injury prevention. Some areas have community-based Safe Communities Coalitions. To find out if there is one in your community, contact your State Office of Traffic Safety.
Safe Kids
By working at a national level through grassroots community coalitions, SAFE Kids, a campaign that aims to prevent the number one killer of children—unintentional injury—educates adults and children alike, provides safety devices to families in need, works to pass and strengthen laws to empower families and communities, and to protect children ages 14 and under.

Because pedestrian injury is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 5 to 14, SAFE Kids and program sponsor FedEx Express joined forces to launch SAFE Kids Walk this Way, a national and local pedestrian safety initiative. Some of the most visible Walk this Way projects include participation in and promotion of National Walk Our Children to School Day.
Partnership for a Walkable America
Another example of a national coalition is the Partnership for a Walkable America (PWA). The goals of the PWA are to improve the conditions for walking in America and to increase the number of Americans who walk regularly. Members include national governmental agencies and non-profit organizations concerned about three main areas: Health, Safety and the Environment.

Represented by a substantial number of both small and large private and public organizations and individuals, the Partnership has adopted four strategies to meet their goals—the identification of changes needed to make America a more walkable country, the promotion of walking as an important mode of transportation, the identification of good and bad examples of walkability, and the education of both the American public and policy makers on the benefits of a walkable community and how it can be achieved.
Active Living by Design
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Active Living by Design (ALbD) program has become a model for establishing community partnerships for active living. The ALbD model for community partnerships emphasizes the need for five different types of proficiencies for creating and sustaining change.
Proficiency Description
Preparation and Partnership—Building Increase Capacity—Communities need funding, training, inventories of assets and deficiencies, and establishing good working relationships.
Promotion Change Awareness—Community-wide campaigns raise the visibility of active living opportunities.
Programs Provide Support to Change Behavior—Senior walking programs, and walking school buses, for example, can provide the means to change behavior.
Policy Change our Institutions—There are explicit, formal policies, and there are rules and unwritten patterns of practice that can be addressed.
Physical Improvements Consider Land Use, Transportation, and Public Space—Constructing more walkable communities is a cross-cutting effort that includes many different parties.

The Active Living by Design national program office has supported 25 local partnerships since 2003. Stories of these communities and more can be found on their web site.

In your state, there may be funding for pedestrian-focused partnerships available from your traffic safety organization. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) maintains a list of State Highway Safety Offices as well as other useful resources. There may also be public health support for community partnerships that address health and safety issues.

Even where there may not be pre-existing funding or grants available, communities can bring together a tremendous display of resources through their partnership efforts.