Michael Christensen is the current Chair of the South Dakota Advocacy Committee. Read below to know why he got involved with the American Heart Association and learn about his passion for safe active transportation!
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What brought you to be an advocate for the American Heart Association?
In 2015 the American Heart Association worked for the passage of a successful bill in the state legislature that required 3 feet of separation between a bicycle on the road and an overtaking vehicle. This effort and the association's acknowledgement that advocating for healthy living can mean changing regulations to encourage and provide safety caught my attention.
What issues or policies are you most passionate about and why?
I am passionate about active transportation in all its forms. Most commonly this means advocating for the removal of barriers to bicycling and walking. Public transportation fits in too because biking and walking is often the first an last mile of a bus trip.
Active transportation is free, healthy and something everybody can do without setting time aside for a trip to the gym. By turning a 15 minute drive to work into a 20 minute bike ride I combine my commute, exercise, and health into one trip. Wait! Two trips. I usually get to go home at the end of the day.
What is your favorite advocacy memory or experience so far and what made it great?
The passage of that bill in 2015 gave South Dakota one of the strongest bicycle passing laws in the country. Seeing legislators come to realize the safety needs of bicyclists on the roadways was great to see.
What is your favorite way to be active?
Have I mentioned I like bicycles? I run too. 5,000 bike miles and 500 running miles in 2017. I biked across South Dakota my first time this year in June on RASDAK (Ride Across South Dakota).
What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?
I have bananas, grapes and apples on my counter and I'll try most any creatively prepared brussels sprouts.