Walkable communities: A better way

Think of the personal benefits if we occasionally chose not to use the car.

by Mike Cartsonis — 

We can live better lives if we make good choices. Half of our daily trips to and from home are less than three miles; and half of those less than one mile — short enough distances that many of us could walk, ride a bike or take an electric vehicle. Think of the personal benefits if we occasionally chose not to use the car:

  • Healthier bodies from exercise
  • Decreased vulnerability to diseases: e.g., asthma, diabetes
  • Less inhalation of auto exhaust and pollution
  • Savings in gasoline consumption
  • Better budgeting for savings with less frequent car use
  • Greater self-reliance for children; e.g., biking to school
  • Increased community contacts and socialization
  • Greater community security with awareness
  • Protection from intrusive regional traffic

“Walkable Communities” and “Taking Back the Streets” were the themes of a recent AARP Conference in Washington, D.C., where members examined how we can create healthful environments that invite exercise and encourage walking and biking.

Taking Back the Streets called for more sidewalks and safer pathways to grocery stores, schools and the other services for daily living, particularly for the 30 percent of Americans who do not own automobiles. These amenities would not only serve the older population, but school children and the physically challenged as well, adding to their quality of life.

The goal of this conference was to mobilize interest for walkable communities in order to encourage a healthful lifestyle for all, and to enable those without motor transportation to have a convenient and independent access to local community services.

 

Mike Cartsonis is a transportation specialist volunteer at AARP Arizona. 866-389-5649 or www.aarp.org.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 6, December 2007/January 2008.

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