Solutions for a More Walkable America

| 1/9/2015 9:39:00 AM

Walking Movement

Research shows that exercising outdoors, especially in nature, can improve our health and concentration and might expedite our natural healing processes.

A diverse coalition that links fields as varied as business, education, health care, transportation, recreation, social justice, community revitalization and grassroots organizing, the walking movement is advancing on many fronts to encourage Americans to walk more and remove the barriers that keep us off our feet. “Every profession is now starting to see the importance of walkability in our communities — real estate, health care, traffic engineering, economic development, urban planning, sustainability,” reports Dan Burden, Walkability Expert for the Blue Zones project who has traveled to more 3,500 communities over the past four decades to promote walking.

A lot of energy is being generated by organizations involved with the Every Body Walk! Collaborative and America Walks, but the loosely organized movement includes other players too, some of whom have been working on these issues for years and others who were fired up recently about the potential of walking to strengthen our health, our lives, our communities, our economy, our nation and the world.

Here are some of the promising developments, strategies, messages and tools that are now emerging to promote walking:

Vision Zero for Safe Streets: 4,500 Americans are killed crossing the street every year — a tragedy that very few people acknowledge. But there’s hope that will change now that New York City, San Francisco, Oregon and other places are implementing Vision Zero campaigns to reduce traffic deaths through street improvements, law enforcement and public education. Similar policies in Sweden cut pedestrian deaths in half over the past five years — and reduced overall traffic fatalities at the same rate. “Vision Zero is the next big thinking for walking,” says Alliance for Biking & Walking President Jeff Miller.

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