Had an interesting time at the Fit City/Fat City dialogue the other week. As a result of the event and suddenly realizing that it’s the 5 year anniversary of Building Up (the Canada25 report on cities) I thought I would dedicate this week’s posts to public policy ideas for creating healthy cities.
Idea #2: Listen while you walk: A health city is a walking city. A walking city is a quiet city.
I travel for work, so when I am in Vancouver I’ve resolved to walk at least one direction to all my meetings (in an effort to get reacquainted with the city and keep in shape). Like virtually everyone else under 35 years of age I see walking and taking the bus I take my iPod with me everywhere. I know some people listen to podcasts, others music and others lectures. My shuffle always have a book on tape loaded up (hey, if you’ve got an 8km walk ahead of you it’s a lot easier if your listening to something).
All this to say that walking in cities is a surprisingly noisy affair. Indeed, after pointing this out during the dialogue another participant came up to me and claimed that if the sidewalks of even a moderately busy street were a work zone, workplace regulations would require you wear earplugs. Now that’s fascinating. Whether you listen to an MP3 player or not it’s hard to imagine that walking is an appealing option when it is so loud it runs the risk of damaging your ears. What to do? We have demarked bike paths in the city, so why not walking paths? These paths, which could link high-traffic/high density neighbourhoods in the city, might be extra wide, better lit, traffic quietened, lined with cross-walks, and a balance between the shortest route and flattest route.
[tags]health, fitness, urban planning, health policy[/tags]