In recent years, much has been made of sidewalks and bike lanes. From Los Angeles and New York to military bases abroad, leaders are making physical activity a priority. As it turns out, they’re on to something.
Sidewalks and bike trails provide more than cosmetic changes to a community. In a recent analysis of CDC and U.S. Census data across 126 municipalities, Governing magazine found a strong correlation between the the percentage of people who walk or bike to work and the overall health of residents. According to Governing’s analysis, the ten healthiest cities based on Body Mass Index are the ten cities with the highest rate of commuting without a car or public transportation.
While sidewalks and bike lanes don’t necessarily cause active behavior, their presence in a community doesn’t hurt. New York’s Mayor Bloomberg pushed for the expansion of bike lanes a priority during his tenure at City Hall, aiming to build 1,800 miles by 2030. Since 2001, ridership in the City has grown by 255 percent.
Governing is not the first publication to expound upon the benefits of walking or biking to work. In May, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine drew a connection between long commutes and high blood pressure.
Still not convinced? According to CEOs for Cities, increasing the walkability of your community even by a small amount can improve the value of your home.