Walkable Communities: Not Just a Green Thing

If you lived in a place where you had to walk on the shoulder of a road or in the grass, would you walk places? What if you lived in a neighborhood with sidewalks that lead to places like the grocery store or a restaurant?

The development choices of cities and towns can have a drastic effect on the health of its residents. Mark Fenton, a former world-class race walker and an engineer, travels the country energetically proclaiming the many benefits that health-conscious urban design can have on a community. He recently met with fficials from Bloomington, Edina and Richfield to explain why they should build more streets and developments that lure people into being active.

Fenton explains that the design of our communities influences how active we are as part of our routine daily life. The best way to encourage regular exercise is not to build trails for walkers and bicyclists just in parks, but to have paths that are part of a network and that lead to destinations where want to go. People are more willing to walk or bike to the store if they feel they are able to safely do it.

In communities that are fully developed like Bloomington, Edina and Richfield, with roads in neighborhoods that were laid out years ago, that healthy design doesn't need to be a huge project. Sometimes redesigning and restriping roads to include narrow lanes for bicyles and pedestrians can be enough.

Read the rest of this Star Tribune article to learn more about what Bloomington, Edina, and Richfield are doing to make their communities more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

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