Surgeon General to call for walkable communities

surgeongeneralSurgeon General Vivek Murthy will launch a “Call to Action on Promoting Walking and Walkable Communities” September 9 at 10 a.m. Details about how to watch the Webcast will be available on the Surgeon General’s website (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov) on the morning of September 9.

The Call to Action will highlight the significant health burden that exists in the U.S. today due to physical inactivity – contributing to more than 10% of the preventable mortality in America today. More specifically, it will make recommendations to a number of key sectors about critical actions they can take to improve community walkability and increase walking.

The announcement is of critical interest to urbanists in general and the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) in particular, according to Chris Kochtitzky, Associate Director for Program Development at the Centers for Diseaase Control‘s National Center for Environmental Health.

The Call dovetails nicely with CNU priorities, he says, including:

• Great walkable, urban places—buildings, blocks, and neighborhoods—in small towns or big cities, are powerful economic and social engines, improving community health and resilience while promoting sustainability and equity.

• The design of streets, buildings, infrastructure, and public spaces strongly impacts the health of communities and their residents. Research has shown that living in compact, walkable neighborhoods improves health by encouraging more physical activity, while poorly designed communities can exacerbate rates of obesity and chronic disease. CNU advocates for neighborhood design that builds exercise into daily routines and improves access to services and green space.

• CNU’s work in Transportation reform stands for the revitalization of streets in our communities. Through transportation reform, we work to place pedestrians back at the center of the public realm by demanding better safety and advocating for street networks that enrich our sense of place and quality of life.

• Walkable neighborhoods built and revitalized by CNU members are safer and healthier for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. They reduce household expenditures. They increase access to jobs and correlate with greater economic mobility.

• We advocate the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the following principles: neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice.

• We recognize that physical solutions by themselves will not solve social and economic problems, but neither can economic vitality, community stability, and environmental health be sustained without a coherent and supportive physical framework.

For more information about the larger effort, you can visit the Surgeon General’s website at: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/priorities/active-living or you can visit the website of the coalition that is forming to collaborate on efforts to increase walking and walkability at: EveryBody Walk Collaborative! (http://everybodywalk.org/). In addition you can contact Kate Kraft, the National Coalition Director, at kkraft@americawalks.org for more information.

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This column was originally published here.

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