Health Commish: We Can Make NYC More Walkable and Bikeable

Thomas_Farley.jpgHealth Commissioner Thomas Farley: ready to saddle up and ride to work. Image: NY Daily News.

With half a year in New York and (most of) a nasty flu season under his belt, new Health Commissioner Tom Farley recently sat down with Transportation Alternatives to discuss the importance of walking and biking for NYC’s health.

Since Farley took the helm at the Health Department, the agency has shown increasing interest in the health benefits of using muscle power to get around. The department worked with several other agencies on the city’s new Active Design Guidelines, recommending planning policies to promote
walking and biking. The agency also recently released a study linking walking and biking with better health.

In the winter issue of TA’s Reclaim magazine, Farley couldn’t be clearer about the potential for active transportation in New York, telling TA that "there is more that we can do to make it more walkable and bikeable."

As for the Health Department’s role in those improvements, one idea Farley puts forward in the interview is to help to temporarily free city blocks from traffic. "Making that process simple and encouraging people to do that and pointing out its value is something, I think, that is a role for the Health Department," he said. So, block parties and Summer Streets — doctor’s orders. Farley also discussed the Health Department’s innovative Bedford-Stuyvesant Bike Lane Study, which is currently underway and seeks to assess cyclist behavior and needs.

Farley has recommitted himself to bike commuting too. Although he pedaled to work at his previous post in New Orleans, since arriving in New York, he’s kept his bike reserved for weekend use only. Farley told TA, though, that "when things get a little warmer and flu is behind us," he’ll start taking two wheels to work.  

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