Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities

 Today's historic Call to Action by the U.S. Surgeon General makes walking a national priority. We need to improve the safety and walkability of all neighborhoods, and everyone in the community has a role to play in this national movement! This is an opportunity for the various stakeholders in Lee County to come together and embrace this national call to action and step up our complete streets efforts to make our communities safer and more accessible places to walk and bike.

Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities

Excerpts from Executive Summary

One out of every two U.S. adults is living with a chronic disease, such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. These diseases contribute to disability, premature death, and health care costs. Increasing people’s physical activity levels will significantly reduce their risk of chronic diseases and related risk factors. Because physical activity has numerous other health benefits—such as supporting positive mental health and healthy aging—it is one of the most important actions people can take to improve their overall health.

Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities recognizes the importance of physical activity for people of all ages and abilities. It calls on Americans to be more physically active through walking and calls on the nation to better support walking and walkability. Improving walkability means that communities are created or enhanced to make it safe and easy to walk and that pedestrian activity is encouraged for all people. The purpose of the Call to Action is to increase walking across the United States by calling for improved access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll and by creating a culture that supports these activities for people of all ages and abilities.

The Call to Action
The Call to Action includes five goals, with related strategies to support walking and walkability in the United States. These strategies will make it easier and safer for people to walk and to use a wheelchair, ride a bike, and be active in other ways. Support for these goals and strategies is needed across many sectors of society, such as transportation, land use, and community design; parks, recreation, and fitness; education; business and industry; volunteer and nonprofit; health care; media; and public health. Families and individuals will also need to be involved to make the United States a walkable nation.

Goal 1. Make Walking a National Priority
  • Encourage people to promote walking and make their communities more walkable.
  • Create a walking movement to make walking and walkability a national priority.

Goal 2. Design Communities that Make It Safe and Easy to Walk for People of All Ages and Abilities
  • Design and maintain streets and sidewalks so that walking is safe and easy.
  • Design communities that support safe and easy places for people to walk.
Goal 3. Promote Programs and Policies to Support Walking Where People Live, Learn, Work, and Play
  • Promote programs and policies that make it easy for students to walk before, during, and after school.
  • Promote worksite programs and policies that support walking and walkability.
  • Promote community programs and policies that make it safe and easy for residents to walk.
Goal 4. Provide Information to Encourage Walking and Improve Walkability
  • Educate people about the benefits of safe walking and places to walk.
  • Develop effective and consistent messages and engage the media to promote walking and walkability.
  • Educate relevant professionals on how to promote walking and walkability through their profession.
Goal 5. Fill Surveillance, Research, and Evaluation Gaps Related to Walking and Walkability
  • Improve the quality and consistency of surveillance data collected about walking and walkability.
  • Address research gaps to promote walking and walkability.
  • Evaluate community interventions to promote walking and walkability.

Promoting walking offers a powerful public health strategy to increase physical activity. With the Call to Action, the U.S. Surgeon General calls on Americans to be physically active and for the nation to better support walking and walkability for people of all ages and abilities. To improve walking and walkability, communities need to be designed to make walking safer and easier; programs and policies need to be available to support and encourage walking; and individuals and families need to support each other to become and stay active. Many partners are already involved, but more engagement is needed to increase the reach, breadth, and impact of these efforts. Walking is an easy and inexpensive way to improve the health and well-being of all Americans. Now is the time to step it up and make walking a national priority.

Surgeon General's "Step It Up" webpage

Executive Summary 

The full report

See links to what role everyone can play to help make our communities more walkable:
Transportation, Land Use, and Community Design
Parks, Recreation, and Fitness
Colleges and Universities
Business and Industry
Volunteer and Nonprofit Organizations
Health Care
Public Health

Today's Smart Growth America put out this statement about the Surgeon General's Call to Action:

Over the past decade, scores of research has shown the correlation between physical inactivity and sprawl development. Today, 10 percent of the preventable deaths in America are related to physical inactivity and its related diseases, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes—and communities without safe places to walk are part of the problem. Smart Growth America's 2003 report Measuring the Health Effects of Sprawl was one of the first to examine this issue. Today, the Surgeon General is making it a national health priority.
Today Dr. Murthy will highlight the country's significant health burden due to physical inactivity, and recommend critical actions the nation needs to take to improve community walkability across the country.

Too often, we build communities where walking is unsafe. This discourages physical activity, and is contributing to an epidemic of pedestrian deaths across the country. This leaves Americans with no choices about how to get where they need to go.

We can change this. Strategies like Complete Streets, innovative transportation investment, responsible real estate development, and downtown revitalization are all ways we can make walking and physical activity a built-in feature of more communities.

What if we labeled unwalkable neighborhoods like we do cigarettes? A similar call from the Surgeon General in 1964 was the watershed event that kicked off a decades-long decline in cigarette use. Could today’s Call to Action do the same for communities without safe places to walk?
What if we put states, cities and towns on notice that streets and roads that are dangerous by design for people on foot or bike are a prime contributor to the obesity epidemic (as well as a contributing factor in an alarming number of fatalities)? What if we prioritized sidewalks and crosswalks the same way we do sunscreen, “no smoking” signs, and preventing underage drinking?
The Surgeon General’s position makes it clear that America needs more than a simple call to “get out and exercise.” We need to build communities where walking is a safe and convenient option — so getting where you need to go can help you stay physically active and healthy.
The good news is that the tide is turning in communities of all types and sizes all over the country. Small towns, rural, suburban and urban areas are reinvesting in their downtown cores and creating vibrant walkable neighborhoods like never before and reaping the benefits of better walking and biking infrastructure. We still need to do more to encourage walking, but there’s clearly huge pent-up demand for walkable neighborhoods and high-quality facilities that anyone can use.
People want to walk, and they increasingly want to live and work in places where it’s a convenient option.
Since Indianapolis’s Cultural Trail, a high-quality biking and walking trail, opened in 2008 the value of properties within a block have increased an astonishing 148 percent. Last week, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution published a special package about the amazing demand for homes near the still-in-progress Beltline project that will eventually encircle the city with trails and transit. Nashville’s metropolitan planning organization recently began considering health criteria as they select transportation projects in the hopes of helping improve the health of residents over the next few decades as they grow. Washington State adopted a Vision Zero plan to reduce pedestrian deaths to zero. Making their vision a reality includes not just educating drivers about pedestrian and bike safety but also re-designing streets and roads to slow traffic and give folks walking and biking safe and attractive facilities to use.
There’s far more to do, though. While these stories are encouraging, the lowest-income neighborhoods across the country are the ones more likely to lack sidewalks, crosswalks or other facilities to keep residents safe.

1 comment:

  1. sure hoping North Fort Myers will get some sidewalks along US 41 to allow seniors to walk to Publix and Walgreens near Del Prado North-sidewald near Prairie Pines goes nowhere still.


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