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D.C. Update: Big win for healthy transportation!

Earlier in November, the United States House of Representatives voted on, and passed a major piece of legislation called the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act. You may have heard it referred to as the bipartisan infrastructure bill, but for our purposes we will refer to it as the “IIJA.” The IIJA includes major investments/victories for active transportation, something the American Heart Association has supported for a long time!

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If all this talk of infrastructure and active transportation sounds familiar, it should! You're the Cure advocates have been working on this issue for years. We’ve launched grassroots campaigns in support of Transportation Reauthorization for years and were repeatedly told by Congressional leaders to “wait till next year.” Well, it’s finally next year and thanks in large part to the tireless work of advocates like you, we’ve got a lot to celebrate. The IIJA contains major wins that will help people from across the country be active and get moving in healthy and safe ways which could help combat and prevent heart disease and stroke!

While much of the media coverage on the IIJA has focused on how the legislation will lead to improved roads and bridges, improved rail travel or on the jobs these projects will create, we want to focus on what the legislation does to help us get moving in heart healthy ways! We all know that living an active lifestyle can lead to better health outcomes, including a reduction in heart disease and stroke and thanks to this bill, being active just got a whole lot easier for millions of us. Whether we live in a rural or urban area, the IIJA has something for everyone.

Thanks to the thousands of YTC advocates who made their voices heard over the last few years, the IIJA will:

• Increase funding for construction and maintenance of walking, biking, and rolling trails and paths by 60 percent.
• Strengthen and expands Safe Routes to School.
• Require states to prioritize protecting those who walk, bike, and roll from vehicle fatalities.
• Increase federal support of Complete Streets.
• Ensure that high need communities, like those without sidewalks, walking trails or other safe ways for us to be active are prioritized. That means more walking, biking, and rolling funds make it to local communities that need it, rather than allowing the states to use the money for other, unrelated projects preventing waste and ensuring the benefits are distributed across the country in an equitable manner.

These are major wins that have been years in the making. The creation of more and safer transportation alternatives like dedicated sidewalks and bike paths can have positive mental and physical health impacts for everyone who uses them so THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all that you’ve done over the last few years. This tremendous victory for health advocates would not have been possible without you. Let’s all celebrate by talking a walk, bike ride or having a rolling adventure…We deserve it!

 

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