Here in the Rogue Valley we are blessed with a wide variety of walking, hiking, trekking options. Some are better known, such as the Pacific Crest Trail, Table Rock and the Bear Creek Greenway, while others are somewhat hidden gems, like the Jacksonville Woodlands (www.jvwoodlands.org). In addition, there are hundreds of day hikes in and around the Siskiyou’s. Sharon has written eloquently about the health benefits of walking so I don’t want to go down that path (no pun intended).
In June I did a show on Rogue Valley Community Television (RVTV) that discussed walking. This show was one of a series I did on RVTV called “Age-Friendly Rogue Valley.” The show was sponsored by AARP Oregon. If you are interested, here is a link to that show: http://vp.telvue.com/preview?id=T01550&video=200208
A 2012 poll of Southern Oregon registered voters over age 50 found that walking ranked second (behind driving) in terms of how those surveyed got around. However, the poll also found some gaps in how these respondents viewed some of the “walkability” elements in our community. For example, while 93% of respondents thought having sidewalks available where they walk was important, there was a 32% gap between their desire for sidewalks and what they perceived to be available.
AARP has published The Getting Around Guide to Walking, Bicycling and Public Transportation (www.aarp.org/livablecommunities). The guide points out that many of our communities were designed for motorists, with pedestrians an afterthought. The guide encourages older adults to “get back on your feet” and provides a number of common sense tips.
Sharon and I are walkers. It may be a challenge in the summer heat but Sharon gets out early in the morning and I sometimes tag along (it takes me longer to loosen up in the morning). The area where we are currently living in Phoenix while our “age-friendly” home is under construction in Central Point, lends itself to short walks but is very near the Fern Valley Interchange construction which makes it almost impossible to reach the nearby Bear Creek Parkway across I-5. Our immediate community fortunately has sidewalks but often as not we walk in the street (less chance of tripping) and motor traffic is minimal. Sadly, while the community is “walkable,” there are many missed opportunities for trails that might have been included when the development was in the planning stages. Note to developers – incorporate walkability into your plans.
Over the years Sharon and I have shared long walks in major cities and regions around the world. One of our more memorable outings was a walking tour of the Cotswolds in England This area in South Central England includes rolling hills, farms and fields and historic villages. Our walking tours began each day with a full English breakfast (includes beans) and then with map in hand we would set off on a 15+ mile walk soaking in the beauty of the countryside. At the end of each days walking we would find ourselves in a new village with our luggage have been transported by car ahead of us.
We can’t all do a walking tour of the Cotswolds but here in the Rogue Valley we can create our own memorable walks and maintain our health in the bargain.