End of October: On Running, Walking, Fitness & Safety

nyc marathon bay ridge wonder woman flickr emilydickinsonridesabmx

(Photo of Wonder Woman NYC Marathon 2009 courtesy of Emily Dolan, hosted at Flickr)

Today is the first Sunday in November — the one day a year when thousands of people from all over the world converge in NYC to run in the world’s most-watched marathon — the NYC Marathon. American, Meb Keflizighi, won the men’s race and Derartu Tulu was the best of the women.

While the race does not come anywhere near Sheepshead Bay, it does go from Southern Brooklyn and onward. There’s nothing more exciting than when the fittest people in the world are racing through Southern Brooklyn toward their destination in the greatest city in the world (borough, whatever).

Announcing it as a “Halloween cross-over fact”, the Huffington Post tells us that the founder of the marathon was a native of Transylvania. Yesterday being Halloween, a day of fun, and revelry, it is quite a contrast between the alcohol-flowing with costumed party-goers last night, compared to the adrenaline-flowing, dry-runners from this morning.

And yesterday being the last day of October, also, means that the International Walk to School Month of 2009 is over. Do these random bits of information have anything to do with us in Sheepshead Bay? Of course they do.

There’s been quite a bit of attention given, lately, to what seems like an increase in the number of accidents on our local roads. Questions came up about if any of these problems could be related to an increase in the number of drivers who are under the influence of alcohol. Concurrently, questions are raised about why so many people are driving to places when they may be better off walking, especially considering the shortages in parking.

And, of course, we have seen the reports of how local parents are driving their kids to school when it may be better for the environment and the kid’s health that they were to walk, instead.

The International Walk to School Month was started by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, which lists the following in their quest to get kids to walk to school:

Safe Routes to School programs enable community leaders, schools and parents across the United States to improve safety and encourage more children to safely walk and bicycle to school. In the process, programs are working to reduce traffic congestion and improve health and the environment, making communities more livable for everyone.

Many who grew up in Sheepshead Bay and went to local schools by foot or bicycle, know that our streets and sidewalks are ideal for non-motored travel. Yesterday, costumed children could be seen smiling while pounding the pavement in search of Halloween treats.In the same way, it would be great to see more people of all ages choosing to walk to school and work or to the local stores for shopping or doing their errands.

The NYC Marathon is finished for this year and runners have left South Brooklyn, but that doesn’t mean that health and fitness have to leave us behind.

This November 1 could be the start of a new and safer level of activity in our local streets — one that involves human power, not 240-horse power. You don’t have to be Wonder Woman or have super powers to do your pedestrian duty.