Two Batesville leaders kicked off the city’s April 10 Active Living Workshop by explaining why the focus is vital.
Angie Johnson, Southeastern Indiana YMCA executive director, said one of the key findings of a recent community needs assessment was the desire to connect all parts of town with hiking and biking paths.
Dr. Jim Roberts, Batesville Community School Corp. superintendent, reported, “It’s very exciting to see community members engaged in conversations about health and fitness.” With more exercise, students’ minds “are going to be more active and engaged.”
About 50 attendees had to be educated about the terminology by three workshop leaders based in Indianapolis: Zia Brucaya, Indiana Complete Streets Coalition coordinator with the nonprofit Health by Design; Lindsey Bouza, Indiana State Department of Health Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity wellness and physical activity coordinator; and Pete Fritz, ISDH healthy communities planner.
Brucaya noted active living is “a way of life that integrates physical activity into daily routines. Are we able to get out and be active on our way to work? Can we bike and walk to the grocery store ... to the park?” The presenter added, “An active living community is walkable, bikeable, transit-oriented, universally accessible, a place where streets are destinations.” She urged attendees to think how to make a street an experience.
Gary Moeller asked, “What’s a Complete Street?” Brucaya defined it as one that is designed for all users. “Bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists can all safely co-exist.” As vehicles became more and more popular, community planners unintentionally forgot to design streets for walkers, cyclists and those who can’t drive or don’t want to.
According to Fritz, 12 Hoosier cities where 37 percent of Hoosiers reside, including Indianapolis, Fishers, Evansville and Lafayette, have adopted Complete Streets policies. “Once you have an adopted policy, INDOT (Indiana Department of Transportation) is mandated to listen to that. They have to consider it,” but may not follow all requirements when reconstructing roads.