Clark County bike/walk plan earns national award for fighting obesity

Cover of the plan.

While Vancouver isn’t the same cycling utopia as Portland; bit by bit, the area is striving to embrace two-wheeled transportation. Those efforts just got a head nod from the Active Living Research (ALR), an organization that promotes walking and biking as means to fight childhood obesity.

In a press release, Clark County Public Health announced it received ALR’s 2012 Translating Research to Policy Award for its Health Impact Assessment (PDF) of the Clark County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. The annual award, given to one organization each year, recognizes exceptional use of research in making policies affecting youth physical activity levels, according to ALR Research Coordinator Chad Spoon.

“The plan will increase community health, decrease medical costs for the county and help Clark County have a more complete transportation system.”
— Laurie Lebowski, Clark County

Saying it was “an honor to receive the award,” Public Health Officer Alan Melnick believes the award places the county in “good company” with past recipients that had “impressive” projects. Past award recipients include New York City’s Active Design Guidelines, and a Texas effort to address childhood obesity.

Efforts to address childhood obesity locally are needed, according to Melnick. “Twenty-three percent of Clark County tenth-graders are overweight or obese,” he said, referencing a 2008 study.

Clark County Firefighter and
Bike Clark County leader Eric
Giacchino on a shared path
in Clark County.
(Photo: Courtesy Eric Giacchino)

Clark County Planner Laurie Lebowski, who serves as the county’s bike and pedestrian coordinator, hailed Public Health’s assessment as an example of government synergy. “It’s a great example of how different agencies can collaborate and do great work,” she said. The review was far from a token gesture of approval, according to Lebowski.

“Public Health’s assessment of the bike plan’s polices were given to the Board of Commissioner at critical points during the decision making process in a very innovative way to show the impact each policy would have on the health of Clark County,” she said.

Lebowski believes the county’s bike and pedestrian plan is on the right track for making the county a healthier and bike-friendlier place to live. “The plan will increase community health, decrease medical costs for the county and help Clark County have a more complete transportation system,” she said.

The award comes with a $1,000 cash prize, a recognition plaque and the invitation to make a presentation at the annual Active Living Conference.

While it may be years before Vancouver starts to discuss its first cycle track, it’s nice to see our neighbors get some hard earned — and much needed — recognition for the progress the area has made the last few years.

— Marcus Griffith (marcus.griffith(at) is our Vancouver correspondent, read more of his coverage here.

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