Today I want to congratulate First Lady Michelle Obama and the Childhood Obesity Task Force for completing a very effective first year.
A year ago, President Obama announced that the First Lady would lead the charge to encourage children to exercise more and adopt healthier eating habits through the new Childhood Obesity Task Force.
In assuming this charge, Mrs. Obama asserted an ambitious goal: "I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food nutrition and physical activity."
One of the Task Force's first steps was to create Let's Move!, a great web resource offering parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices. I urge you to pay this terrific site a visit.
Here at DOT, several of our initiatives complement the work of the First Lady's task force. Walking, bicycling, and complete streets efforts all promote the healthier lifestyle needed to help eliminate childhood obesity. And whenever we get the chance, we've enjoyed sharing those initiatives on Let's Move!
- Encouraging children to walk and bike safely to school through our Safe Routes to Schools programs. Believe it or not, riding to school in a car is less safe than either riding a school bus or walking or biking. Safe Routes programs also reduce traffic congestion and improve the environment, making communities more livable for everyone.
- Promoting bicycle and pedestrian-friendly “complete streets” policies. DOT wants to ensure that the roads we build and repair are safe and convenient for everyone using them. This means considering drivers, cyclists, and walkers when undertaking road work and taking their interests into account when planning new roads.
- Using TIGER discretionary funds to support projects that benefit communities and create opportunities for increased physical activity. Projects like the Philadelphia Area Pedestrian and Bicycle Network allow commuters and recreational walkers and bicyclists to exercise more options for getting around. We've also worked hard through our TIGER program to offer improved connections for bicyclists and pedestrians to transit centers.
Investing in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure is a cost-effective strategy for reducing traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, and dependence on oil while also providing public health, safety, and air quality benefits.
And, as it turns out, investing in infrastructure for non-motorized transportation is also a pretty good engine for job creation.
It's important to remember that DOT's bicycle and pedestrian-friendly initiatives don't subtract from other ways of getting around. Rather, these programs add more options to the mix. And Americans have said that's exactly what they want.
So, you bet I’m excited about the work we’ve been able to do this year to support Let’s Move! and the First Lady’s efforts to combat childhood obesity. And I hope you'll join me in wishing Let’s Move! and the Childhood Obesity Task Force an even more successful year two!