INDIANAPOLIS - A statewide event focusing on the role biking and walking amenities can play in community development will kick off Wednesday in Indianapolis. Organizers of the 2018 Bike and Walk Summit say some 120 professionals in fields including planning, engineering and economic development are expected to attend. Indianapolis-based Health by Design advocates for policy, system and environmental changes that help integrate physical activity into Hoosiers' lives. The nonprofit is collaborating with the Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana State Department of Health and Bicycle Indiana on the two-day summit, which will feature panel discussions, training and networking opportunities.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Health by Design Executive Director Kim Irwin says the summit will be a statewide draw. "The really great thing about this conference is that there are a lot of different types of people that come together that aren't necessarily interacting day-in and day-out," Irwin said. "This summit is a great place for people to hear best practices, to learn what is really working, what has worked, to learn some lessons from things that haven't worked as well."

She says an important theme is the cultural shift involved in making places more welcoming and safe for walking and biking, which includes focusing on how people move about in cities and towns in vehicles, on bike or on-foot. "We hear that -- not just anecdotally -- but in terms of very direct actions that are taking (place)," Irwin said. One example is the bidding process for Amazon.com Inc.'s second headquarters. Indianapolis is a top 20 finalist for what could mean $5 billion in investment and Irwin says availability of walking, biking and public transportation amenities are one of the keys to securing the location. An employer in another more rural community she observed recently said it was working to attract the types of employees that wanted to use trails as part of the overall quality-of-life offerings.

The event begins at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Omni Severin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis and runs through Thursday afternoon. You can connect to more about the event by clicking here.