Friday, October 14, 2011

Doctor's Orders!

Walk Two Trails and Call Me in the Morning!

Rails to Trails simply rocked my socks with their latest newsletter raving about the need for public spaces in areas like New York City. In fact, there have been a few articles from other sources about making of the Highline Park and how beneficial it is to the economy and those who enjoy this park in the sky (stay tuned for a dedicated post on the Guardian write up).

A sad but true statistic of how incredibly sedentary our lives have become: "Almost half of all urban trips in the United States are less than two miles, but almost all of these are taken by car. By choosing to walk rather than drive just a few times a week, we can all make a big difference to our personal health. Many doctors now believe that walking just 150 minutes a week can have marked impact on treating a range of problems, from depression to high blood pressure."

It seems counterproductive to go for a walk when the toxic fumes and noise from buses, trucks and cars overwhelm the streets and make it anything but relaxing. Unless you take the Q41 over to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge or the Q11 to Forest Park, there aren't safe and soothing spaces to walk in South Queens. The tracks in public school yards are closed to the public (yes, I checked). The therapeutic benefits of nature definitely won't kick when you're hitting the pavement around these parts.

"Over the past 50 years we have built landscapes that work for cars but not always for people. In many communities it is inconvenient, or even dangerous, to go for a walk, to try and live an active lifestyle, " stated RTC President Keith Laughlin. I'm not going to call any names ;)

More often than not, parents who live within ten blocks are driving their cars when dropping off and picking up their children from school (which, in my humble opinion, is not a far walk at all and would help to instill healthy habits and bonding time). You cannot tell me you haven't noticed the back-to-back traffic around elementary schools!

I fondly remember my grandpa walking my brothers, cousin and I to P.S. 55 every morning. And sometimes our neighbor's dog Romeo followed us all the way. Grandpa waited until we went inside, walked back home to 125 Street. Then he magically appeared again at 3:00PM to walk us back those 10 blocks. I relished those afternoons, finding treasures of acorns and colorful leaves, which I secretly tucked away into my dad's brown corduroy sport jacket as I skipped along the cracked sidewalks.

Laughlin's words are music to my ears, "At the local level, people are yearning for investments in their cities and towns that make them more livable and walkable." In other words, let's do this!

"The testimony of medical professionals is now adding to the growing weight of evidence that investing in biking and walking infrastructure will not only save the nation billions in reduced oil consumption and environmental mitigation, but also slash wasteful health care expenditure." What a fantastic argument to make for the Queens Highline (or any public space for that matter). I'm sure the Department of Transportation is thrilled to hear this!

On this happy and healthy note, I look forward to day when the Rail to Trails crew, our Mayor, Borough President, City Council Members, Community Boards and even the President of the United States come to my neighborhood for a walking tour of the Queens