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Active Transportation

Erick Ask

In High school I recall reading the April 1979 issue of National Geographic which featured a story by Mary Leakey regarding early hominid footprints her team had discovered at Laetoli, Tanzania.  It included an artist’s rendition of three early hominids walking across a fresh volcanic ash field.  This image has stuck with me over all these decades and has become more relevant as my interest in Active Transportation has developed since college.  The human body evolved to move, not sit, and active transportation is about walking and pedaling, not sitting.

So, with May being National Bicycle Month and May 2 having been Massachusetts Walk and Bike to School Day, I want to encourage fellow Miltonians to get in touch with your early hominid and consider walking and biking over driving for at least the next six months.  We are blessed with wonderful sidewalks and crosswalks as well as bike lanes and share rows. The library, schools, parks and business districts have bike racks.  So, when you head out in your car or to the trolley because you have to run errands, go to the gym, grab coffee or a meal…consider walking and biking. Currently Milton is a certified Silver level Bicycle Friendly Community.  

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council is working to introduce Bike-Share companies to its member communities this year.  So, don’t be surprised if later this year you see these company bicycles around town.  The sooner you encourage our Selectmen to adopt the program, the sooner you will see the bikes!  If you join a bike-share company’s service(app on your smart phone) you can access their bikes for $1/30 minutes.  Neighboring communities started last fall with great success.

I’ve been working in East Africa for over twenty years and was fortunate enough, 17 years ago, to visit Olduvai Gorge for the first time and see the location of the Laetoli footprints. I can assure you it was a very moving experience.  I can’t help but think that those early hominids would be disappointed to see modern hominids sitting about when we could very well be using our bodies the way they’d evolved to be used… actively transporting themselves!  Don’t disappoint your ancestors, go for a walk or a bike ride today and make it a daily habit.  You’ll then realize the many benefits of Active Transportation: 1. Free exercise, 2. Decreased commuting costs, 3. Improved environment (decreased air and sound pollution…  decreased water pollution too, if your car is leaking oil and other fluids), 4. Decreased traffic,  5. Improved mental health…  Let’s face it, traffic congestion and fighting for parking negatively impacts mental health, while a bike ride instantly puts a smile on your face!

Look both ways before crossing the street! Member: Milton Bicycle Advisory Committee, Sustainable Milton and Safe Routes to School advocate.



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