The message at a community health roundtable Wednesday was that health is much more than doctors and health care.
A person's environment -- whether it's the natural world or the one created by man -- is instrumental to health, and a panel of local elected officials and health experts put their heads together with an audience of about 50 residents to figure out the ways government can help encourage a healthier environment.
At the top of the list for most audience members who spoke was better opportunities to use their muscle power to get around.
While Richland Mayor John Fox and Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins touted the steps their respective cities have taken to plan for trails and bike routes, residents said that too often they have to get into cars and drive to places for outdoor recreation.
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Several audience members said they don't feel safe walking to parks or playfields because of the lack of sidewalks or because they have to cross major roads.
Dr. Michael Turner, a physiatrist at Kadlec Regional Medical Center, who served as a member of the panel, said many employees at the Richland hospital likely would love to be able to walk down to the Columbia River during their lunch breaks, but that would require crossing busy traffic on George Washington Way.
"Richland has a great waterfront, but crossing George Washington Way is like a moat," he said. "Trying to get from the Kadlec campus to just over the river is not easy. We need to work on that issue."
Fox noted that Richland has a plan in the works to improve Swift Boulevard from Kadlec to the river.
"We are cognizant of that. We are working on it," he said. "As for George Washington Way, that's practically hopeless. It's the only north-south street that goes through Richland and there's not much you can do with it."
Watkins encouraged citizens who want more trails and bike paths to come to city council meetings and voice their desires.
"If the biking community does want those amenities, they're not showing up to council meetings," he said. "They're not being involved and saying, 'We want bicycle paths.' "