It’s always an enjoyable stroll through the Derby neighborhood in Commerce City. In just a few blocks you can ring up a cup of coffee, pop by the grocery store, or even stop for a haircut.
“Everything you need is kind of around the block,” said Derby resident Ami Sullivan.
It’s a short walk from Sullivan’s job at Hi-Lo Market to her home on the corner. Sullivan enjoys life in what’s called a “walkable” neighborhood.
“It’s very convenient,” she said. “I don’t have to go very many places. Everything I have that I need is right in this area.”
A city like Wheat Ridge is a different story. With urban sprawl, occasional bad sidewalks and heavy traffic, walkers beware.
“This creates an environment that is not pedestrian friendly,” said Molly Hanson with LiveWell Wheat Ridge, describing a sidewalk that stops abruptly in a parking lot.
Wheat Ridge wants to make changes. The city is getting the help of recommendations from LiveWell Colorado’s new “Built Environment Blueprint.”
“Hopefully the plan will address this and redesign this section to support a more walkable, bikeable environment,” said Hanson about the 38th Avenue corridor.
The new blueprint provides communities with suggestions about how to be healthier. It includes information about healthy eating, land use, and alternate transportation.
LiveWell hopes walkable communities will be more than just convenient. The organization’s mission is to reduce obesity.
“People are not getting enough physical activity in their daily lives today,” said LiveWell Colorado president and CEO Maren Stewart.
Bigger sidewalks, safe places to cross the street, and easy access to amenities like shops, schools and libraries might encourage people to get some exercise.
“It really allows for the healthy choice to become the easy choice or the default choice,” said Stewart.
She hopes new choices in city planning can foster healthy communities, from big thoroughfares like 38th Avenue to small neighborhoods like Derby.