Safer Streets For Walking And Bicycling

All communities deserve opportunities for healthy living, such as better food options, safer streets for walking and bicycling, more places to play and more ways for children to be active during and after school. However, cost and/or a busy modern life can make healthy living difficult. That’s why it’s important to make changes in our communities that can improve health for everyone. This is especially true in Hispanic communities, where higher rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes are common.
Lack of access to safe streets and sidewalks also makes it difficult for walkers and bicyclists to get from place to place. Considering that October is a month when many organizations sponsor walks and community runs – such as the American Heart Walk, Memory Walk, Walk-to-School Day and the Step Up Lancaster County Challenge – it’s important that our communities support those efforts through safe and accessible streets and sidewalks.
Fortunately, there are things we can do in our community to make healthier the places where we live, work, learn and play. Consider these four tips to make healthy living easier:
• Get involved with your local school system. Our children deserve more ways to be active before, during and after school. Schools can help community members advocate for safer routes to school so students can walk and bike safely. Schools can also help community members implement walking school bus programs, an opportunity that promotes walking to school, increases community engagement and can reduce transportation costs to the school district. This funding can be used to support other much-needed resources and materials in schools.
• Take a new route to school or work. Our community deserves more places to walk and bike. Being more physically active is easier when there are safe streets, sidewalks and bike trails. Take a few minutes to map out a new way to get to work or school. Not only will you get to know your community a little better, but you’ll also see new things along the way. And, if you see something you don’t like. Let your elected officials know. They would appreciate hearing from you.
• Support municipal efforts to build or connect walking and biking trails. Our community deserves trails that connect communities. Walking and biking trails provide opportunities for travel throughout the community without the use of a car. Trails are away from streets, well lit and well maintained, making it safe for residents to take their daily walk, go to the park or farmers’ market or ride their bicycles. Municipal officials need to hear that their efforts to build and/or connect trails are supported by the community they 
are designed for.
• Start a walking or bicycle club. Our community deserves opportunities to connect with others. Getting physically active is much easier when we have the support of friends, family, church members, and others, especially when they participate as well. Encourage people you know to walk or ride their bicycles with you. Then encourage them to encourage others. Before you know it, you’ll have a club.

What does your community deserve? What can you do to affect change in your community? Explore healthy-living resources by visiting lightenuplancaster.org.  For more ways to help make our community safer for walking and bicycling, visit livewelllancaster.org.

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