Man riding bikeBy AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Denver dedicated $7.1 million in its 2016 budget – $1 million more than in 2015 – to make biking and walking throughout the city safer and easier. The city plans to add bike lanes, sidewalks, lighting and crosswalks, with $2.2 million going to Denver Moves, a program that encourages residents to be more active.

“Protected bike lanes are more comfortable and attractive to people of all ages and riding abilities and support active living and healthy lifestyles,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said in a news release. Bike lanes are part of Denver’s strategic transportation plan that began in 2002.

In December, Hancock held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open a new protected bike lane downtown.

Colorado, particularly Denver and the surrounding Jefferson County, is among the most exercise-friendly areas in the U.S. The county received a perfect score for “access to exercise opportunities,” and boasts a 13 percent physical inactivity rate, based on a 2015 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report.

Overall, Colorado ranks in the 92nd percentile in access to exercise opportunities, meaning only 8 percent of states do better, and has 15 percent physical inactivity, according to the report.

Denver has more than 100 miles of multi-use trails, 100 miles of bike lanes, almost 400 miles of signed bike routes and 39 miles of “sharrows,” according to a city report. A sharrow, or shared lane arrow, is a symbol on the street indicating that cyclists may share a lane with drivers.

Cardiologist Peter Buttrick, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said in a news release that the mayor’s efforts to improve mobility will improve heart health.

“The math is simple,” he said. “The more we move, the healthier we will be.”