Be Well

Assuring healthy, safe, and sustainable physical environments that promote walking and bicycling, physical activity, and clean air for all of UCLA.


More About Be Well

We collaborate with campus and community leaders to identify, plan, and implement best practices for active and safe transit (especially walking and bicycling), facilitation of physical activity in everyday activities, clean and green campus spaces, and building campus awareness about the built environment.

Be Well Leadership

Dr. Richard J. Jackson, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Richard Jackson's passions are health, nature, architecture, creating visions, and protecting children. He has worked extensively on chemical hazards, building public health strategy, leadership, and he strongly focuses on how the ‘built environment’ affects health. He has served as the Director of the CDC National Center for Environmental Health, California's top state health officer, on the Board of Directors for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and is an elected Honorary AIA. He is professor and chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health with appointments in Pediatrics, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES), and Urban Planning. He has received the John Heinz environment award for his work, and is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine. 

Renee Fortier M.A./M.S., Co-Chair

Renée Fortier (B.A. Rice University; M.A./M.S. UCLA), Executive Director UCLA Events & Transportation, oversees both a comprehensive transportation program and the campus Events Office, and is co-chair of the Built Environment (BE Well) pod of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative. With a daily population of 70,000, UCLA reduces traffic, and improves air quality and quality of life for the UCLA campus and the community at large through an extensive sustainable transportation program, including public transit passes, bicycle programs, carpools, vanpools, shuttles, and a campus fleet which is 50% alternative fueled. UCLA’s transportation programs have garnered awards from the Air Quality Management District, Association for Commuter Transportation and L.A. Metro, as well as the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), and have received a “Best Workplace for Commuters” - Gold designation and a “Bike Friendly University” – Silver designation.

Jimmy Tran, BE Well Graduate Student Researcher

Jimmy is a third year graduate student completing his dual master degrees in Environmental Health Sciences and Urban and Regional Planning. His interests are in understanding how we can change our social and physical environments to make healthy options such as walking and biking the preferred option. As the BE Well Pod graduate researcher, Jimmy aims to bring together the creative passions of students, faculty, and staff can influence policy to make UCLA’s campus healthier and safe, and sustainable.

Have a question, concern, or an idea? We would like to hear about it!

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By Miso Kwak

Whether we may be aware of it or not, our daily surroundings have a big impact on our health and safety. An easy example may be how having trees on our streets improve the quality of air we breathe. Another is how the quality of water we use and drink could directly influence our health.

In this light, what seems to go unnoticed often around the UCLA’s campus are its sidewalks. Sidewalks may not seem as important, but they allow for safer walking. In turn, they encourage physical mobility and exercise.

While many of the sidewalks on campus are of fair quality, many of sidewalks surrounding areas of UCLA are poorly maintained. Can you think of a moment when you or your friend tripped over tree roots that are sticking out on cracked surfaces of the sidewalk? How about when a friend who uses mobility aids could not go through because the sidewalk surface was uneven or not wide enough?

Overgrown roots of trees, narrow width, unevenness of the ground, and arrangement of street furniture are some of factors that make sidewalks inaccessible and unsafe. The images included below are just a few examples of those concerns-- and may be familiar to the many of you who traverse the streets of Westwood. 


Such characteristics are obstacles especially for people who use mobility aids like wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers. However, they are also factors that degrade usability and friendliness of sidewalk for those who do not use assistive mobility devices. Too narrow of sidewalks or sidewalks that have unstable surface lead pedestrians on to the road regardless of their means of travel, which leads to dangerous situations for both pedestrians and drivers.

What then, makes sidewalks accessible and friendly for every type of pedestrian?

First, as suggested by Heather McCain, the executive director of Citizens for Accessible Neighborhoods, and the United States Access Board's standards for floor and ground surfaces, the surface of sidewalks should be stable, solid, flat, and made of materials that can prevent slipping. Additionally, sidewalks should be wide enough for wheelchairs to pass through.

For visually impaired pedestrians, in addition to having a stable and solid surface, it is also important to have access to raised tactile surface, materials with contrasting auditory properties when tapped by cane, and contrasting color to obtain helpful information for wayfinding.

Lastly, street furniture (e.g., benches, trees, street lamps, and signs) should be arranged in a mindful way that considers pedestrians with mobility impairment and visual impairment prior to considering aesthetics. 


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