Cape Gazette
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Friday Editorial

Delaware is staking out the higher ground

May 03, 2013

When Thomas Jefferson and the nation’s founders wrote their Declaration of Independence, they listed “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” among the unalienable rights of all people. History shows that earlier versions of that declaration suggested life, lib­erty and the pursuit of property as the central rights. But Jefferson, Franklin and others went to higher ground, acknowledging that the pursuit of happiness transcends the pursuit of property as a right of ultimate importance.

Delaware continues to show its allegiance to that higher ground through its commitment to becoming the most walkable and bikeable state in the nation. The Markell administra­tion’s Trails and Pathways initiative, designed to connect Delaware’s communities with an interconnecting system of trails for walkers and bicyclists, puts the state in a leadership position in the pursuit of happiness. Hav­ing a system of easily accessible walking and bicycling trails connecting towns, parks and other attractions will encourage people to be outside and active. Active people tend to be healthier people. Healthier people are in a much better position to pursue happiness, one of our nation’s unalienable rights.

Unfortunately, our state and nation have been in a downward spiral for many years in terms of health. We don’t eat well; we spend too much time on our butts in front of com­puter and television screens, and we’re way too inactive. The result is alarming percentag­es of obesity and diabetes and the associated high cost of healthcare.

Delaware’s initiatives aim to reverse this seriously negative trend. The efforts are tak­ing hold. This week the League of American Bicyclists ranked Delaware fifth in the nation in terms of bicycle-friendly states. That’s up from 10th position last year. The Markell administration still has its sights set on the No. 1 position. That’s good news for all who live here and those who visit. This “build it and they will come” approach will make us all healthier and better able to pursue happiness.

It’s a lofty and noble goal. The additional good news is the positive economic benefit already coming from Delaware positioning itself as a great place to live and raise a family, and to visit and vacation.

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