Monday, April 7, 2008

The road less traveled

As National Public Health Week gets rolling, I am excited that we at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) are again a partner. RTC already knows the link between providing people with safe places to be active and reaping the benefits of a healthier community. But did you know that trails and health also come together to fight climate change?

The American public is in a unique position to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases while increasing physical activity by walking and biking more and driving less. This kind of “active transportation” is a twofer — not only are you decreasing your carbon output, you’re getting healthier at the same time.

Changing your travel habits is easier than you think. Nearly half of all trips in the United States are three miles or less, but the vast majority of these trips are taken by car. Since Tuesday’s Healthy Climate Pledge behavior is to “travel differently,” I urge you to rethink how you make that short trip to the store or commute to the office, and consider walking or bicycling instead of driving.

Think of it this way: a three-mile bike ride will take the average person less than 20 minutes to complete. If you ride your bike there and back, you’ve already exceeded the surgeon general’s recommended 30 minutes of physical activity for the day!

To help you make this even easier (and even more fun), RTC provides a trail search engine tool on our home page, available free to the public. Click “Find a Trail” and let the adventure begin. You might find a trail in your area that will take you to the grocery store, the movies or out to dinner. I have!

Once you discover the pleasure in traveling differently, we hope you’ll let us know by taking our Burn Calories, Not Carbon!™ Pledge. Taking the pledge lets you make a personal commitment to walking and biking more and driving less. You can also learn more about our efforts to provide America’s communities with rail-trails and other infrastructures that provide us with safe, healthy and sustainable transportation choices.

I hope to see you “traveling differently” out on the rail-trails with me this spring. Together, we can improve the health of our people and our planet.

Keith Laughlin
President, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

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