Delaware’s trails initiative critical
At the May 1 Walkable Bikeable Delaware summit in Dover, a message from Christiana Care cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Ray A. Blackwell said he spends many days in the operating room repairing damage caused by years of sedentary living. He implored those at the conference to keep working to make Delaware a safe place for bicycling and walking.
“If we keep at it, we can make a difference,” said Blackwell. “We can help reduce the No. 1 and No. 4 causes of death in this country: cardiovascular disease and stroke. I would like to see us become the most bicycle-friendly and heart-healthy state in the U.S.”
A recent report from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association focused on creating spaces that can change the built environment to promote active living. While once again sounding the alarm on obesity in the U.S., the report stressed the importance of providing places where people can get outside and exercise safely.
The report notes: “… studies have shown that building bike and pedestrian trails reduces healthcare costs associated with physical inactivity. For every dollar invested in building these trails, nearly $3 in medical cost savings may be achieved. Additionally, linking different parts of the community with trails and walkways opens up the opportunity for community integration, better quality of life and increased property values.”
Delaware’s legislators and the Markell administration – with the Delaware Trails and Pathways Initiative – are doing exactly what the major health organizations are recommending.
At that same conference, League of American Bicyclists Executive Director Andy Clark announced that Delaware has now risen from the fifth most bicycle-friendly state in the union in 2013 to the fourth most bike-friendly state in 2014. East of the Mississippi, Delaware ranks No. 1.
Trails and pathways are not just childish fun and games. They boost our economy; they improve our quality of life, but most of all they can reverse the obesity trend, save millions in medical costs, and make us healthier and happier.
Delaware is on an inspired and enlightened mission with its trails initiative and should not waver in the years ahead.