Colorado’s Beautiful Streets and Sidewalks
I just returned from a family vacation in Colorado and spent a good deal of time looking at their fabulous streets and sidewalks. Yes, you read that right. I was in arguably one of the most beautiful states in our nation and was struck by the splendor of concrete.
Don’t misunderstand, the whole family took advantage of the opportunity to breathe fresh mountain air, hike winding tree and lake lined trails, enjoy mild, humidity- free temperatures and leave the door to the condo open without swarms of insects entering. However, this trip to Colorado was different for me. This trip held something new to observe about our friends to the west.
I am part of a coalition called Healthy Hastings that you will be hearing quite a bit about in the near future. Our group recently received a grant from the National Recreation and Park Association to help improve the health of our community. Specifically, our group is focused on policy, systems and environmental change strategies. In simple terms, our goal is to help make the healthy choice, the easy choice.
This is where Colorado is light years ahead of us. There are already policies in place that allow for bicycle lanes on streets, wide sidewalks with consideration for all potential users in every new development or redevelopment and strategic plans for connecting it all together.
There were very few roads I traveled that didn’t have a marked bike lane on the street or a bike path, but the real beauty in the system was that everything led to something. I’m quite certain you could bike or walk to nearly every grocery store, mall, church, movie theatre and restaurant in several different communities I visited. And the thing about people who live in Colorado is that is exactly what they do! People walk and bike EVERYWHERE! It’s a beautiful thing! Not coincidentally, Colorado also has the lowest obesity rate in the nation. Apparently, they don’t use the winter snow and cold as an excuse to forego physical activity like a certain neighbor to the east who shall remain nameless, but starts with N, ends with A and has ebrask in the middle.
Hastings actually has a really good start, which I think is one reason we may have been selected for the grant. We have several miles of a very nice hike/bike trail in place, but at the moment it doesn’t connect to a whole lot of things. Hastings College students can’t easily ride their bike to the grocery store. People who live in the eastern and southern parts of Hastings have to try to battle traffic on many different very busy streets to even access the path. There will be some improvements to the connectivity of the path in the very near future, but we still have a long way to go to help it serve all the citizens of Hastings.
We also will be working with businesses, community and healthcare organizations and the community at large to improve policies and systems within the entities to positively affect the employees and patrons of those organizations. This will ultimately help improve the health of the community as a whole.
The Healthy Hastings group is currently finishing up a very intense community assessment process from which we will formulate an action plan. Please watch for more information coming soon and please let me know if you would like to be involved.
In the meantime, I plan to enjoy all the wonderful things that Hastings and Nebraska have to offer, but I will have my eye to finding beauty in our streets and sidewalks soon too!
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