By Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT
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June 10, 2014 HARTFORD, Conn. - A survey is underway to make Connecticut streets more friendly for pedestrians and bicycles, and survey organizers say the results should eventually result in positive impacts for health, air quality and even the economy.
As day-to-day work grows more computer-based, employees often wind up spending too much time sitting. Kelly Kennedy, the executive director of Bike Walk Connecticut, says that sedentary work environment is taking a big hit on workers' health. In fact, Kennedy says public health is the primary reason her group is conducting this first of its kind survey, called Complete Streets, in an effort to make roads originally designed for cars more user-friendly for those on foot and riding bicycles.
"If it were easier and safer to get around and to make at least short trips by bike or by foot that would improve our health," says Kennedy. "It would also improve air quality."
Kennedy says her organization's survey is also questioning city planners to get a sense of what towns and municipalities are doing proactively to create more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly routes. She says they also want to know if it is easy for you to get around your town by bike or on foot, and what it's like walking or biking to places like schools, parks, senior centers and shopping centers.
The survey is accessible from the Bike Walk Connecticut website.
"If it's not generally easy to get around, then we ask for specifics; what's the problem, are there not enough sidewalks, do the sidewalks stop and start suddenly," says Kennedy. "Those are the kinds of things that we are getting at."
She says the money saved by greater numbers of people walking and biking can add up to big benefits for local economies.
"Gas prices are only going up, and the more money we spend on gas and on cars the less money we have for other things," explains Kennedy. "If we can re-purpose some of that spending, we can help other sectors of the economy like the mom-and-pop stores that keep the economy moving."
The Complete Streets survey is funded through a federal cooperative agreement administered by the Connecticut Department of Public Health. The results will be released early this summer.
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