Guest Columnist

Why walkability matters

A Walking School Bus driver leads her students across Zeller Street in route to Garner Elementary School in North Liberty. A Walking School Bus (WSB) is a group of children walking together with adult “drivers” to supervise. (Brian Ray/Gazette Archives)
A Walking School Bus driver leads her students across Zeller Street in route to Garner Elementary School in North Liberty. A Walking School Bus (WSB) is a group of children walking together with adult “drivers” to supervise. (Brian Ray/Gazette Archives)

Trails and roadways can literally be paths to better health and well-being. Investments in sidewalks, bike lanes, trails, public transit, and other infrastructure that supports physical activity can lead to improved individual health and decreased health care costs. This is significant, as the prevalence of obesity is so great that today’s generation of children may be the first in more than 200 years to not live as long as their parents.

Walkable streets and neighborhoods provide physical activity opportunities in addition to economic, health, equity and environmental benefits. Cedar Rapids is committed to creating safe, inviting places to walk in our community. Some of the city of Cedar Rapids’ efforts that support walkability in our community include:

• Cedar Rapids is the first city in Iowa to adopt a Complete Streets Policy, which ensures roads are safe for all users, including pedestrians and bicyclists.

• A new Pedestrian Master Plan is under development. Public outreach was held June and July 2018. Based on public feedback, the city will develop a draft plan this winter for the community to review.

• Street design — Cedar Rapids has implemented numerous measures to reduce traffic speeds and enhance pedestrian safety, including: two-way conversions, road diets, and curb extensions.

• Connectivity — Well-connected street networks have shorter blocks, more intersections, and make walking to everyday destinations direct and convenient.

The new MedQ Mile is a one-mile loop walking route in the MedQuarter District, featuring the new MedQ Park on Third Avenue and Eighth Street SE.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

For the second year, the city of Cedar Rapids is hosting the Healthiest State Initiative’s Healthiest State Walk in downtown Cedar Rapids. This short, fun event is designed for you to walk, connect, and get back to your day. Meet in front of City Hall, 101 First Street SE at noon Oct. 3.

Walkable communities are associated with healthier populations. People in such communities are more physically active, have less weight gain, have lower rates of traffic injuries, and are less exposed to air pollution. We can all help promote walking in our neighborhoods by:

• Walking with friends, family, and work colleagues on a regular basis.

• Participating in organized activities, such as the downtown Cedar Rapids Healthiest State Walk on Oct. 3.

• Joining the City Manager’s One Bag Challenge, a community cleanup effort to make places where we walk safe and attractive.

• Joining advisory boards, nonprofits and community planning processes to support safe and convenient places to walk.

• Stephanie Schrader is a community well-being liaison for the city of Cedar Rapids and is one of 12 fellows participating in the Iowa Walking College.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Want to join the conversation?

Consider subscribing to TheGazette.com and participate in discussing the important issues to our community with other Gazette subscribers.

Already a Gazette or TheGazette.com subscriber? Just login here with your account email and password.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.