Mayor Daniel Bianchi leads a ground of children to a smooth landing at walking loop ceremony.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With families now owning multiple cars, it seems almost automatic to drive.
But city officials want people to rethink that automation. Instead of driving a few blocks, why not walk?
On Monday, officials celebrated the creation of the city's second walking loop to encourage more healthy lifestyles.
"We have to change the mindset for our children and let them know that it isn't a crime to walk two or three blocks to get to some place," said Mayor Daniel Bianchi.
The new loop is 2.74 miles around the Morningside neighborhood. Signs along Tyler, Merrill, First and Fenn streets direct walkers where to go in a safe manner. Once the Woodlawn Street bridge is rebuilt, the loop will go on that road, too.
"Along the route you will see street signs to keep you on track," said organizer Shiobbean Lemme.
Bianchi added that the city is currently looking at ways to improve the lighting on Tyler Street to further encourage the use of the route.
Dozens of people gathered at St. Mary's Church on Monday to take the first walk around the now official loop.
Director of Public Health Gina Armstrong said walking only a little provides great health benefits. The hope of the walking loop is to encourage more people to walk to various places — such as the Common, the farmer's market or to the various Morningside businesses.
"Walking 30 to 50 minutes, five days a week has tremendous health benefits," Armstrong. "That's not much in a week to fit in."
The loop was created by Be Well Berkshires, the city's health and community development offices, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and the Tyler Street Business group. The group said it is willing to work with any neighborhood to develop loops. The Morningside loop follows the development of the Downtown Loop in 2012.
"We are kind of in the second phase. We started with the downtown walking loop and now Morningside. We hope to have connectivity to the Common," Armstrong said.
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