Newswise — Raise your hand if you want children to be more active! What about the opportunity to access safer sidewalks and cycle paths so they can ride or walk to school? Americans in cities across the country all raised their hands this last election cycle to vote for change within their communities, giving their citizens the right to enjoy their city on foot, bicycle, skates, or any mode of active transportation they choose.
We all know how important it is to stay active and what the mental and physical benefits are. And let’s face it, many of our kids don’t have access to adequate Physical Education classes or are even limited in their recess or free-play periods at school. Or, if they have the route where they can walk or bike, sidewalks may be impassible due to years of wear and tear, and may not have curb ramps or crosswalks that can help keep kids safe.
Getting kids moving on safer sidewalks and streets has been a top priority of Voices for Healthy Kids since its inception back in 2013. That’s why, over the course of the past three years, Voices for Healthy Kids has been beating the drum for cities to make active changes through bond support that is needed to not only continue the building of safe routes for people who walk, but make the necessary repairs to existing roads, bridges and sidewalks as well.
As of Nov. 8, cities, and even entire states, saw vast support from their respective communities to ensure change was made and that everyone could enjoy access to safer routes whether they walk, ride a bike, push a stroller, or roll a wheelchair. As the votes came in, the tiny ripples of hope quickly turned into waves of change from the east to the west coast. Of the 23 active transportation ballot measures actively supported by the American Heart Association, 11 won. This was part of a trend that saw more than 50 active transportation ballot measures that passed on Election Day.
Los Angeles saw a tremendous turnout of support for Measure M which passed with 69.8 percent voting in favor with 100 percent of precincts reporting. Over the course of the next 50 years there will be more than $4 billion dedicated towards projects that will improve the safety and walkability throughout Los Angeles County. In addition, millions of dollars will be invested in creating a more connected bicycle network, repairing local streets and sidewalks and funding countywide walking and biking programs as well as creating an easier access to transit.
An additional large win came out of Rhode Island and saw voters approving the Green Economy Bond which passed with 67.4 percent voting in favor with 98 percent of precincts reporting. Millions of dollars have been approved for new bike paths, the construction of parks, local recreational facilities and additional open space. The bond that has made this all possible totaled $35 million.
As we celebrate the two victories highlighted above, Voices for Healthy Kids applauds the following locations as they commit to making the necessary changes that will ensure their city is a safer, more active, place for all:
Santa Clara County, CASanta Cru, CAzAtlanta, GAFulton County, GACharlotte , NCGreensboro, NCAustin, TXClark County, NVMaine
“We are ecstatic that changes are being made and that cultures of health are being established. While repairs and the extension of building these walking and biking projects can take time, the fact that they will happen is a great feat and one that will change the course of how these communities get around. And the opportunity to get around should be a basic right for everyone,” commented Tim Vaske, American Heart Association campaign manager for active transportation policy. “Our work doesn’t stop here. We are poised and ready for the next round and are looking forward watching these communities, and others like them, continue to grow, flourish and become more active than they ever have before.”