In California, bicycle transportation in the Latino community has skyrocketed over the past decade. Bicycling is an essential mode of transportation for people in working-class neighborhoods of all backgrounds; here in Los Angeles bikes have a particularly significant impact on social and economic mobility for many Latinos.
It's a concept that Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and our partners in the public health field believe could revolutionize health care - adding just 30 minutes of walking or riding a day as a simple and inexpensive preventive treatment.
Working on a story for the upcoming fall edition of Rails to Trails magazine, I learned about a fresh approach to rail-trail enjoyment from Steve Stiert of Ulster Park, N.Y., who runs a charitable therapeutic donkey program. He has seven miniature donkeys that he takes to nursing homes, schools, nature centers, or anywhere else where folks could use a little cheer courtesy of these cuddly and unusual animals.
Created by the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the Prevention Fund is the nation's first large dedicated source of funds for preventing health problems. As we see in the above examples, making it easier for people to regularly walk or bike is a simple but powerful preventative medicine. Thanks to the Prevention Fund, relatively small investments in promoting walking and biking are saving the nation many billions of dollars in future healthcare costs.
Occasional Rails to Trails magazine contributor John Greenfield wrote in Chicago Streetsblog and Newcity magazine of the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC), a group based out of the Lurie Children's Hospital which focuses on walking, biking and active play to help kids maintain healthy weight levels.
The U.S. Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, says take a hike. We agree. Dr. Benjamin is getting set to issue a Call to Action urging Americans to walk, and is looking for ideas on how to get more Americans walking.
The next big health care breakthrough - which could cut rates of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and Alzheimer's by at least 40 percent and save Americans $100 billion a year - comes from a place you'd least expect. On your block. At the park. Everywhere.
As part of National Public Health Week, we're calling on our partners to help Surgeon General Regina Benjamin develop her Call to Action on Walkability—an effort to improve walkability and increase walking in our communities.
March 30 is Opening Day for Trails, and April 1 is the start of National Public Health Week. The convergence of these two events is no coincidence - while people may think of them as pathways for transportation and recreation, trails are now widely acknowledged to be one of our most effective, inexpensive and proactive public health interventions.