Over the years, area cities have left their sidewalks to crumble as people relied more on vehicles to transport them from place to place.
Now the reverse is happening and people are walking more for their health and pleasure, but they find that sidewalks aren't plentiful.
Walking trails that link residential areas and city parks have been popular additions to Southeast Missouri communities. Such trails are good examples of how communities can offer fitness opportunities to residents as a means of combating obesity.
Sidewalks that let parents walk their children to and from school or allow families to stroll through the neighborhood each evening help develop a sense of community and give people greater amounts of exercise.
Jackson city officials unveiled last week the latest segment in their recreational trail, that will eventually link the public schools and park.
The Orchard Trace trail, at 6 feet wide, is just slightly wider than a typical sidewalk. It runs for 1,875 feet along Orchard Drive and ties into the first phase of a recreational trail that runs along Independence Street. Now an elementary and middle school are linked to the city park.
And since the trails are open, parents can feel a little safer about letting their children walk to school without fear of them being in the street.
Another phase of the trail is expected to connect with a Missouri Department of Transportation project on West Jackson Boulevard.
Jackson officials, in implementing the recreational trail system, are putting a greater emphasis on pedestrian and cycling traffic, which is good for the city and for residents' health.