By Carl Kanefsky 2:51pm, March 21, 2014 - Updated 2:55pm, March 21, 2014Making transportation affordable, healthier, and safer was the subject of the 2014 "Heels and Wheels" Summit in Newark on Friday.
WDEL's Carl Kanefsky was there.
It was the 2014 "Heels and Wheels: Delaware Walk and Bike Summit," bringing runners, walkers, hikers, and bikers to Clayton Hall, to learn about the health and economic benefits to sustainable communities for walking and biking.
"Today, a lot of people are spending anywhere from 25 % clear on up to 40% of their earned income on their transport," said Dan Burden, Executive Director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute. "It's the only nation in the world that's doing that and it's not sustainable."
Dan Burden of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute gave the keynote, and says we have to stop planning for traffic, and start planning for people.
"And now, we're going to focus on how do we do that," Burden said, "and really advance the oldest, and actually, cheapest and best forms of transportation, to give people greater access through all years of their lives."
Over the past few years, Delaware has gone from the 31st most bike friendly state in the country, to number five...good progress according to Newark Mayor Polly Sierer, who says 18% of her city's residents bike or walk to work.
"Our main goal now is to connect our trails to areas outside of the city so that it can connect to Wilmington and other areas," Sierer said. "A lot of people bicycle to work, more than people realize, and they need to be able to do that on a connected trail rather than riding on the roads."
State Senator Dave Sokola, an avid biker himself, says residents in places like Newark benefit from those trails, even if they don't ride or hike.
"Their home values are improved when they live close to trails," Sokola said, and the network of trails that has been developed over the last 20 years in Delaware is quite impressive."
Burden says a totally sustainable. walkable community is possible, and it can be accomplished in Delaware, just as easily as anywhere else.
"I have a loty of hope for Delaware," Burden said, "for the First State to become the first state that really totally embraces getting back to human health through the human foot, and the human foot power."
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