Sidewalk Infrastructure

There is a lot of talk in America today about crumbling infrastructure.  Stories of downed bridges make national headlines.  It is blatantly apparent to most observers that America's public transportation system, especially trains, is severely lacking compared to both European and Asian contemporaries.

At the same time that America faces an infrastructure crisis, it also faces an obesity crisis.  Interestingly, America's fattest states are also some of its most rural.  One would think that urbanites with their indoor living would outweigh their hillbilly cousins, yet that does not appear to be America's pattern.

There are complex social, cultural, and economic differences that cause this disparity, but could a small part of it have to do with walking?  Not so much even the desire to walk, but rather the means to walk - sidewalks.  Most of America's large cities (excluding solely perhaps LA) are completely walkable and well served by public transportation systems. 

Yet, suburban and rural sidewalks are often forgotten about or nonexistent.  Would it be easier for Americans to lose weight if it were easier to walk?  Would the public health benefit (including decreased medical costs) warrant spending on improved sidewalk infrastructure?

Why are bike paths constantly championed, while more basic sidewalks are neglected?  How many pedestrians are killed in automobile accidents each year because of insufficient sidewalks?  How much money is spent on foreign oil and corn grower subsidies to facilitate car trips that people would have avoided had they felt more encouraged by sidewalk infrastructure to walk?

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Based on tdSimple originally by Lasantha Bandara and released under the CC By 3.0.