Walkable communities promote health, save money and reduce crime

Walkable communities promote health, save money and reduce crime

[insert name of city in capital letters], June 1, 2008: Everyone knows that walking is good for your health. But did you know that walking also reduces crime, saves money and creates a stronger sense of community?

"In neighbourhoods where people routinely walk to work, to the store or just for fun, the rate of vandalism and theft drops, and people talk to their neighbours and feel more connected to their community," says [insert full name of contact, job title and partner agency] and local coordinator of the iCANwalk program. "And with the rising price of gasoline, walking is also a great way to save money."

iCANwalk is a coalition of various partners, including [insert name of local organization], that supports the development of walkable communities to improve the health of people, the environment and the economy. One of the program's main goals is to raise awareness about the benefits of pedestrian-friendly communities.

In the past 50 years, urban planning and design has changed from being people-focused to being car-focused. That means people have to drive almost anywhere they want to go, whether it's to work, to the store or even to the park. It also means many new communities are built without any sidewalks at all, making walking difficult for children and the elderly, who rely on walking as their primary mode of transportation.

"Studies show that people would walk more often instead of taking car if it was safe and convenient to do so," says [insert contact's surname]. "So, we have to do a better job of keeping sidewalks clear of debris year-round, ensuring crosswalks are clearly marked and slowing down traffic in residential zones."

[He/she] says citizens also need to lobby their elected municipal officials to change bylaws and building codes to be more pedestrian-friendly by encouraging more mixed-use, high-density planning, ensuring sidewalks are mandatory in all new neighbourhoods and making the replacement of burned out streetlights a priority.

The iCANwalk program has a checklist available by phone or online for people to determine how walkable their neighbourhoods are. "All it takes is a 15-minute walk to visit a store, business or school to see how pedestrian-friendly our streets really are," says [insert contact's name].