Letter to the Editor - Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
January 31, 2012
On behalf of Herkimer County HealthNet, Inc., I would like to stress the importance of the current transportation appropriations bill for bicycle and pedestrian transportation enhancements. On February 2, On Thursday, February 2, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will vote on the House version of the transportation bill called the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act (H.R. 7). This bill is expected to eliminate the two largest programs that fund bicycling and walking infrastructure -Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School.
As a region that is bisected by the New York State Canalway Trail System, which is comprised of a network of more than 260 miles of existing multi-use, recreational trails this bill could have implications for our area. Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure provides many benefits, including, but not limited to:
• Reduces health care costs by offering a low-cost opportunity for all New Yorkers, irrespective of age or fitness level, to walk or bike, increase their daily physical activity, and improve their health. New York State will spend approximately $9.9 billion on adult obesity-related health problems in 2011 and $136.3 billion over the next 10 years. Eighty percent of this cost will be paid through local taxes, yet this cost is almost entirely preventable with increased physical activity.
• Enhances local economies with tourism dollars. Bicycle tourism is now the third most common vacation activity according to the U.S. Travel Association, and bicycle tourists spend money – often up to $100-$300 per day, on food, lodging, visits to other recreation and cultural sites, gear, and souvenirs to remind them of their journey.
Herkimer County HealthNet, Inc., along with other agencies in NY State administers the Creating Healthy Places Grant to Live, Work, & Play grant, funded by the NY State Department of Health to prevent obesity and Type 2 diabetes by increasing the availability of places to be physically active and increasing healthy eating. One of the many projects that HealthNet is working on in this effort is improving land use policies, roadway design standards, zoning regulations, and other governmental policies and practices that lead to environmental changes that promote and facilitate physical activity in Herkimer County communities.
Executive Director, Herkimer County HealthNet, Inc.
Thomas Curnow, Executive Director, Herkimer County HealthNet, (315) 867-1552