Complete Streets will help Americans stay active

Eric Sucar

Streets are the great connectors of any community. They don’t just take us from one place to another in our cars, they bring us together on bike rides, jogs and walks.

At least, that’s what they’re supposed to do. The opposite is true in many New Jersey neighborhoods — streets are unsafe for people who walk, bike or run because there are so few bike lanes, sidewalks or crosswalks. This not only limits our choices for how to travel, but also discourages exercise.

According to the American Heart Association, physical inactivity is a leading risk factor for developing cardiovascular diseases. And in today’s world, it can be difficult to lead an active lifestyle. Sedentary jobs have increased 83 percent since 1950 while physically active jobs now make up less than 20 percent of our workforce. Nearly 70 percent of American adults and one in three children are considered overweight or obese. That’s why we must work together to make it easy and safe to go out and get active.

Complete Streets policies ensure that future road construction builds an environment meant to be shared by all travelers — whether it’s bikers, walkers or drivers. Unfortunately for the Garden State, only seven out of 21 counties and 130 out of more than 500 municipalities have Complete Streets policies.

The American Heart Association is seeking individuals, community groups and organizations who are interested in serving on a volunteer committee to raise awareness and urge action around this issue. Please contact courtney.nelson@heart.org or call 609-223-3734 if you are interested in making New Jersey a healthier and safer place to live.

Courtney Nelson
Senior Director of Community Health
American Heart Association | American Stroke Association
Robbinsville