Man rushing over a road crossing in a city on a rainy day (motio

In many ways, walking is the simplest form of physical activity: It doesn’t require special skills or expensive equipment, and it’s easy to get started, regardless of age. But sometimes the simple things aren’t simple for everyone. Traveling to a nearby park, biking to school or even walking to the bus stop can be hard for many Kentuckians because the opportunities just aren’t there.

Getting people to walk starts with improving the places we live, work and play. Rather than sacrificing time and money for workout regimens at expensive gyms, communities can be built for people to be active in their everyday life – whether it’s walking to the grocery, biking to school or just strolling to a friend’s house. By providing safe, accommodating pedestrian opportunities designed for all residents, anybody can incorporate exercise into their daily routine.

We know that people move more when they have inviting places to be active and safe routes to get there. In honor of National Sport and Fitness Month, we wanted to celebrate everyday movement and the importance of building places where being physically active is not only safe and fun, but easy and practical! Engaging local citizens in this planning helps us discover that creating a more walkable community is important to everyone, for many different reasons:


1. Health

People in walkable communities do roughly 35-45 more minutes of physical activity per week and are substantially less likely to be overweight or obese than similar people living in neighborhoods with low walkability.



2. Connections
Elderly Care
There never seems to be enough time to enjoy family and friends. Walking together allows for catching up, building relationships, meeting neighbors, and connecting to our surroundings.


3. Safety
Walkable communities protect pedestrians by redesigning traffic patterns, repairing sidewalks, and including crosswalks or other signage. When people feel safer, they walk more and with fewer cars on the streets, injuries and crashes are less likely.

4. Economics
Active transportation infrastructure creates more jobs per dollar than highway projects, attracts business investments, and increases revenue for small businesses as local residents and tourists explore their community on foot.

 

It makes sense that transportation decisions are focused on improving vehicular traffic and congestion levels when cars continue to dominate our streets. However the idea that roads should be designed to accommodate vehicles just invites even more cars onto our streets, further isolating pedestrians from their community. But this is simply an issue of supply and demand.

Imagine if we started demanding that our communities accommodate all modes of transportation – including walking, biking, wheelchair rolling, and yes, even driving. If all communities provide access to safe, attractive and convenient opportunities to physical activity, whenever and wherever possible, the simple things can be just that: simple.

Join Kentucky in supporting Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities. Connect with the Partnership for a Fit Kentucky to find resources, learn about opportunities, share stories, and join the conversation.


References

America Walks, Benefits of a Walkable Community

Smart Growth America, Complete Streets Promote Good Health & Complete Streets Improve Safety

Local Government Commission, Economic Benefits of Walkable Communities

Top 4 Reasons Your Community Needs a Walkability Makeover