|Grand Rapids MN: the chair for he who is first among pedestrians–Paul Bunyan|
- I didn’t really grow up in a haystack; like most people in rural America, I grew up in a city. Most cities that survive were laid out by the railroads on a grid pattern, making for very walkable neighborhoods and downtowns. Longer trips–say you want to go from the Bass Pro Shop on the east end of town, to the Red Lobster on the west end–can be made in about 15 minutes… in traffic. Biking that distance is not a stretch–especially when most roads have wide shoulders and little traffic.
- Economics. Everyone feels the pinch of $4/gallon gasoline, but those in rural America, where incomes are lower, feel it first. Their response: drive a little less, complain a little more, and get on with life.
|Long winters spent dreaming about riding may explain this creation hanging on the wall of Island Park Cycles in Fargo ND. It’ll do 45 on the flats without a tailwind. Who needs a complete street when you can keep up with the cars?|
The data demonstrate unequivocally that walking and biking are woven into the fabric of rural life. Communities beyond urban centers are ambitiously pursuing and enjoying the benefits of the trails, sidewalks, and road improvements that enable safe and convenient active transportation. Who are these communities? What roles do walking and bicycling play in the small town and rural setting? How is the disproportionate impact of the obesity epidemic in rural areas related? Understanding these stories is an important part of educating decision-makers in a persuasive way about the role walking and bicycling play in the lives of their constituents and neighbors.