Pollard: The Mayor Who Walks His Talk
Popular five-term mayor of Vancouver,
Washington is a living example
of the benefits to be gained with a regular walking routine.
Im Royce Pollard, the mayor of Americas Vancouver.
smiling, 6-foot-1-inch, 215-pound mayor strides with exuding energy
and good health. One would never suspect he underwent five-way bypass
surgery just a year ago, and that he daily meets the challenges posed
by having Type 2 diabetes. A walking stick and bicycle both have prominent
positions in his office along with memorabilia of his years as Vancouvers
mayor and city council-member.
introduced the Mayors Bike Ride in 1999, says Pollard. I
would have preferred for it to be the Mayors Walk, but I had diabetic
feet and couldnt walk. When I enlisted in the Army in 1961, I
ran and I walked. I was in the infantry, so you bet I walked. I was
always in good shape.
many Armed Forces retirees, Pollard experienced a dramatic change
in lifestyle after leaving the Army. As a city council member, he attended
meetings and events, one after another, and most of them had plenty
of food to be enjoyed. He says he never felt he had the time to walk
or fit a game of racquetball into his busy schedule. With lack of exercise
and added weight, Pollard was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. His sons
bought him a bike. Looking back he says, It must have weighed
7,000 pounds, but I loved it. I was able to lose about 25 pounds and
get the diabetes under control.
at 63, 10 years after his diabetes was diagnosed, Pollard started to
experience a burning sensation in his chest when he rode his bike from
City Hall to the Barracks. An angiogram showed blockages. After surgery
to repair these at St. Vincents in Portland, his doctor told him
he was lucky to have received the diagnosis of diabetes when he did,
because the bicycling had strengthened his heart and helped him lose
weight. Ive given you 30 more years if you live right,
his doctor told him.
having prescription inserts fitted in his shoes to compensate for the
loss of the fat pads in his feet due to the diabetes, Mayor Pollard
is back to walking and says, 90% back on my feet again.
looks forward to the 8th Annual International Discovery Walk Festival
in Vancouver this spring when he will be in the review stands for the
International Childrens Parade on the morning of Friday, April
23. He will then kick off the three-day festival that afternoon by leading
the Mayors Walk though downtown, Officers Row, and the waterfront.
On Saturday he will also participate in the bike ride and swim to qualify
for the special Try-Athalon Award, a new feature of this
years event. Mayor Pollard supports, advises, and encourages the
dynamic group of volunteers who organize the festival. The Discovery
Walk is the only walking event in the U.S. sanctioned by the International
Marching League and American Volkssport Association.
Pollard, of course, walking isnt just a once-a-year thing. He
makes it a daily habit. He doesnt believe that starting a walking
routine means you have to make dramatic changes in your life. There
is no need, for example, to schedule an hour-long trek into a jam-packed
day. He makes it a policy to walk to all downtown meetings whereas before
he would routinely just hop in his car.
does he recommend getting started? Just strike out from home or office
in any direction, walk 15 minutes and then return. Somehow pledging
increments of 15 minutes feels easy to do. In a half-hour of walking,
one can cover about a mile (just an estimate since ones stride
and pace will determine the exact distance). Roughly speaking, a city
block will equal 100 steps. Ten blocks will net one-half mile (1,000
steps). Double that and you will have achieved 2,000 steps, an entire
mile. And, according to the national program called America on
the Move, if people walked another 2,000 steps (one mile) every
day, theyd stop gaining weight. They might not lose much, but
at least theyd stop putting on pounds.
also suggests using stairs instead of elevators (as he does), parking
at the bank or pharmacy and walking in instead of using the drive-thru,
and taking the shopping cart back to the store from your car. If there
is a route you cover frequently that you can walk, make one trip in
the car and track the miles on the odometer. That will eliminate the
guesswork in figuring out how far you walk each trip.
are many public health experts who say that many people dont walk
because the infrastructure just isnt there. Neighborhoods are
not built for pedestrians. Metro regions have been struggling with the
issue of suburban sprawl for decades. Already recognized as one of the
countrys most walkable cities, Vancouver is not finished
building paths and bikeways, Not by any means, believes
Pollard. He feels that transportation planners have become much more
attuned to the need and are doing a better job. This is a vast improvement
from the days when designers thought solely of moving automobiles more
efficiently, and cities were developed on the assumption that every
trip would be made by car.
encourage this new walking trend, Mayor Pollard didnt hesitate
to join the Police, Transportation, and Parks department in partnership
with the Vancouver and Evergreen school districts in observingWalk
Your Kids to School Safely Days.He enjoyed the morning walk to
the newly opened Washington Elementary School in the Rosemere neighborhood.
He points out that we are spending precious dollars to build safe unloading
zones so parents can drive their children to school. As a result, kids
are often missing out on the important development of young bodies that
ties public recreation and parks to maintaining the good health of the
community. Parks serve as part of a preventative approach to health
care for all ages. Parks will also be important to a program now being
developed by Community Choices 2010 (CC2010), a non-profit affiliate
of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. The group works to improve
the health and well-being of Clark County through collaboration among
organizations. (See Federal Grant.)
Any program geared to weight control will highlight walking. As Pollard
puts it, Walking is free, good fun, and healthy!
Pollard is not likely to rest on his laurels anytime soon, for in November
he was re-elected to a fifth term. He will continue to use his experience
to encourage city staff, citizens, and other policymakers to maintain
Americas Vancouver as a most walkable city and give
balance to Americas love for the automobile.
still has many dreams for Vancouver. You know, he muses,
we need more paths, trails, sidewalks, bike lanes and a method
to fund them all. We need walking clubs and guides to take walkers through
the landmarks of our rich cultural history. And with the Lewis and Clark
Bicentennial coming up, we need to commemorate this amazing trek across
our great nation by planning, funding, and building a trail along the
entire route in the
few years, both as a lasting legacy to this nation-building event and
to get ready for a lot of walkers.
He quotes Dr. Julian Whitaker of the Whitaker Wellness Institute: If
we could bottle the benefits of physical exercise, we would have one
of the most powerful anti-aging remedies known to man.
can help everyone, Pollard concludes. It is especially beneficial
to older people who will feel better and enjoy life more, even those
who think theyre too old or too out of shape. Aging is inevitable.
I know you cant turn back the clock, but you can sure wind it