point of view
The magazine of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC),
a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a nationwide
network of trails from former rail lines and connecting
corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Charles N. Marshall, chair; Richard W. Angle Jr.;
Mary Bandura; Kathy Blaha; Robert M. Campbell, Jr.;
Matthew Cohen; Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr; David Ingemie; M.
Katherine Kraft; Gail M. Lipstein; Krishna Murthy;
John Rathbone; Guy O. Williams
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy was incorporated in 1985 as a
nonprofit charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the
Internal Revenue Code and is a publicly supported organization
as defined in Sections 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) and 509(a)(1). A copy
of the current financial statement, or annual report, and state
registration filed by RTC may be obtained by contacting RTC
at the address listed below. Donations to RTC are tax-deductible.
Ward Court, NW, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037-1213
Field and Regional offices:
Canal Winchester, OH
Camp Hill, PA
San Francisco, CA
Rails to Trails
is a benefit of membership in Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy. Regular membership is $18 a year, $5 of which
supports the magazine. In addition to the magazine, members
receive discounts on RTC gifts and publications.
Rails to Trails
is published four times a year—three in print, one digital—
by RTC, a nonprofit charitable organization. Copyright 2013
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. ISSN 1523-4126. Printed in U.S.A.
Send address changes to
Rails to Trails
Ward Court, NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20037-1213.
An Ounce of Prevention
It is a difficult problem, with a wonderfully simple solution.
Whether you refer to it as an “obesity epidemic” or an “inactivity crisis,” the
continuing prevalence of sedentary lifestyles in America poses what health officials
acknowledge is the most serious public health challenge of our time.
There are an array of statistics and measures to demonstrate the severity of the
problem. But one of the most troubling is the fact that obesity is now adding $190
billion to America’s annual health care bill.
Remarkably, the most effective antidote to this costly epidemic is literally a few
Doctors across America are prescribing that their
patients get off the couch and take a walk as the best treat-
ment plan for anyone trying to lose weight and improve
their health. Regular walking is powerful medicine, achiev-
ing remarkable and long-lasting results. The fact that it is
free and fun is simply a bonus.
nitiative launched by our part-
ners at Kaiser Permanente has done a terrific job of draw-
ing attention to the significant health benefits of incorpo-
rating just 30 minutes of walking into our daily routine.
But the increasing focus on the health benefits of walk-
ing has also drawn attention to the fact that it requires safe
and convenient places to do it. In too many communities,
we have created serious obstacles to walking. Many neigh-
borhoods are dominated by busy roads without sidewalks,
trails or safe crossings. In places like this, a person’s deter-
mination to improve their health by regular walking is
trumped by the harsh reality that it is not safe or pleasant to do so.
Simply put, if we are going to successfully change our personal behavior to
incorporate regular walking, we must also change the places we live by making them
more “walkable,” by retrofitting them with trails and sidewalks.
Some might argue that this investment will cost money that the government
doesn’t have. In response, I would simply point to the annual $190 billion health
care bill caused by the obesity epidemic and make the case that we can’t afford not
to make relatively small investments to make our communities more walkable.
As Ben Franklin wisely observed more than two centuries ago, “an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
As summer gives way to fall, I hope you will join me on the trail for a pleasant
stroll that will improve our personal health and reduce the cost of health care to the
nation as a whole.
Keith Laughlin, President