Gosia Kung, co-founder of Walk Denver, says that when she moved from Poland to the US in 1997, "I got my driver's license and I gained 20 pounds." She now tries to get more residents of Denver out walking.
Denver planners have set a goal of having 15 percent of the city's residents get to their jobs on bike or on foot by 2020, up from about 6 percent in the most recent census survey.
Two programs have been started within the past two years that help to make people more conscious of that goal:
• Walk with a Doc-Denver, founded in October 2010, organizes monthly walks of Denverites and physicians. The New York Times reports that a cardiologist, Dr. Andrew M. Freeman, is leading the group, which in January drew 135 participants, including 10 doctors. "We're out there because exercise is the best medicine," Dr. Freeman told The Times. "It's free, and there are no side effects."
Each walk takes place in a different locale, generally at a park. Along the way, the participants also learn a few things from the doctors. "We chat," said Dr. Freeman. The Denver group is part of a program, also known as "Just Walk," that has activities in 15 states, plus Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Abu Dhabi.
• Walk Denver, founded withn the past year, is trying to get Denver certified as a "Walk Friendly Community." Walk Friendly Communities is a national recognition program aimed at encouraging towns and cities across the US to make safer pedestrian environments a high priority. It's sponsored by FedEx and the Federal Highway Administration, and is maintained by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center's Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
Gosia Kung, a Polish-born architect who co-founded Walk Denver, sees the organization as "an advocate for a previously voiceless group, the ordinary walker." The hope is both to encourage more walking and to spur city planners to make Denver more amenable to pedestrians.
"In June, Walk Denver and a coalition of other groups plan to descend on a run-down block in north Denver for a weekend to show—if only for a couple of days—how economic life and foot traffic could go together," The Times says. Music, temporary businessses, and outdoor cafes will be part of that project.
Ironically, while these programs are getting established, the newspaper points out, two transportation bills now in Congress would sharply reduce or eliminate programs intended to foster biking and walking.
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