The WalkWorks program, a collaboration between the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, has selected 11 communities for grants to assist with the development of active transportation plans.
“Having access to areas for recreation, such as walking and biking is essential in helping to keep Pennsylvanians healthy,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Physical activity can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and premature death. Being active also helps prevent weight gain, reduce depression and improve cognitive function in older adults.”
The plans will emphasize walking and biking enhancements to each community. The communities receiving the grant awards are: Bristol, Morrisville, New Britain and Plumstead Township in Bucks County; Hatfield Township, Montgomery County Planning Commission and Upper Dublin Municipal Authority in Montgomery County; Lehigh Valley Planning Commission in Lehigh County; Lower Allen Township in Cumberland County; Springettsbury Township in York County and Wilkins Township in Allegheny County.
The grants will help assist in planning and design to incorporate more opportunities for walking, cycling, and public transit. This shift in planning requires a concerted effort to link transportation policy and public health, which these grants support.
“Planning healthy, compact, complete communities is needed to support active transportation,” said Carol L. Reichbaum, M.S.L., M.S.P.A., director of WalkWorks in Pitt Public Health’s Center for Public Health Practice. “Doing so will not only lead to improved health, but it will also address other major concerns, including congestion, economic vitality, and sustainability.”
Funding for WalkWorks is provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health through the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant and the State Physical Activity and Nutrition Program, both from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.