Letter: Understand the concept of ‘active transportation’

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Salt Lake City has installed ten traffic signal detectors, which use a radar device that is triggered by people riding bicycles, to help bicyclists cross the street when no traffic is around.

Active transportation is a concept that needs to be better understood by Salt Lake Valley residents and elected officials alike if we want better air quality and better health for ourselves and our children.

We can only appreciate what we know and understand. Let’s get started coming to understand. What is active transport?

Active transportation facilitates productive walking, bicycling and use of public transit. This is different from “parks, trails and open space.” Bicycling trails and open space are recreational. While wonderful and necessary for a healthy community, they are not active transportation.

When citizens walk, bike and bus to accomplish a task or trip, that is “active” or “productive” transportation. Getting to school, work, shops, services or church on foot, bike or bus are examples of active transportation.

We’ll know we are making progress toward clean air, reduction of sedentary behavior that leads to obesity, diabetes and other ailments, and building camaraderie across all incomes, ethnicities and spiritual practices, when we have cities and towns designed with pedestrian- and bike-friendly main arteries (streets), including public transit that includes small, agile vans/buses facilitating inexpensive, frequent, timely and continuous service.

Ellen Birrell, Cottonwood Heights

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