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Kentucky Heart Foundation receives grant to advocate for complete streets 

The Kentucky Heart Foundation, in partnership with the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Coalition and ACHIEVE initiative, recently received a $10,000 grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky to advocate for complete streets in Boyd and Greenup counties.

Streets are important to the livability of our communities and should accommodate everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus rider or merchant. Unfortunately, many of our streets are designed only for fast-moving vehicles.

In communities across the country and here in eastern Kentucky, a movement is growing to complete the streets, to allow pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities to move along and across them. Complete streets enable safe access for all users.

“We are not asking for a sidewalk to be built on every street,” said Regina Stout, executive director of the Kentucky Heart Foundation. “We are simply asking planners to consider both pedestrians and cyclists when either building new roadways or when renovating old ones,” she said.

A National Conference of State Legislators report found the most effective avenue for encouraging bicycling and walking is incorporating sidewalks and bike lanes into community design – essentially, creating complete streets. 

In considering complete streets, many factors come into play, including what level of access is required in the area and the feasibility of building one. Complete Street ordinances allow for flexibility by evaluating each neighborhood and project individually, to ensure the most efficient use of funds.

The grant funds will be used to advocate for passage of Complete Streets ordinances in Ashland and Russell, Stout said. Activities will include surveying city residents to garner their support for complete streets and advocacy at city council meetings.

“Gathering support for a comprehensive complete streets plan from local residents will be a crucial step when looking to influence policymakers,” according to Holly West, Ashland-Boyd County Health Department educator and leader of the ACHIEVE Complete Streets workgroup. “We need to show that city residents are in favor of complete streets.”

According to a recent Kentucky Health Issues Poll, Eastern Kentucky residents reported the least access to walkable communities, with fewer than three in 10 adults (28 percent) living in communities with sidewalks and roadway shoulders that allow for safe walking, jogging or biking. 

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky’s mission is to address the unmet healthcare needs of Kentucky, by developing and influencing health policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities and promoting health equity.

The Kentucky Heart Foundation is a non-profit organization affiliated with King’s Daughters Heart & Vascular Center that joins healthcare provider efforts to address heart and vascular disease in our region. The area served by the KHF includes a 29-county region in northeastern Kentucky, southern Ohio and western West Virginia. To learn more, visit us on the web at kyheartfoundation.com

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