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FORT WORTH -- A cattle drive is more likely sight in the Fort Worth Stockyards than a herd of cyclists. But, a group of bikers Thursday morning aimed to change that.

"We know if you could just make the active option the easy option in a city, you can raise the activity level by 30 percent," said Dan Buettner, founder of the Blue Zones Project. "You don't need fancy gym memberships, you don't need fancy machines, you just need to be able to walk places, be able to bike places."

Dan Buettner has traveled the world to find the best strategies for longevity. Places where people regularly reach age 100, are called "blue zones."

He believes Fort Worth could be one of them.

Buettner and his team of experts are assessing the city over the next two weeks for possible changes that could make Fort Worth healthier. A bike tour Thursday morning provided information about pedestrian and cycle access.

"We've got roads that have more width than they need, and they're not friendly enough for people to operate businesses," said Dan Burden, director of innovation and inspiration for the Walkable and Liveable Communities Institute. "What we saw on the ride today is an abundance of opportunity."

Cities near Los Angeles that became part of the Blue Zones Project reduced obesity by 14 percent, smoking by 30 percent, and saved $9.3 million in health care costs in just two years. That information was provided by Texas Health Resources, a major supporter of the possible Fort Worth effort.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, an avid cyclist herself, is all for being blue.

"That brings us more economic development, it brings more vitality to the city, it helps set a great example for our kids," Price said. "It's the right thing to do."

If selected, the city would receive assistance to make changes that encourage healthier behavior. That may include building miles of bike lanes that could turn the morning rush in Cowtown into the Tour de Fort Worth.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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