The Fit City: Five Days, Five Ideas (part 3)

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 #3: Unload the kids: Leverage the $100 Laptop initiative and a city-wide wireless network

It may sound counterintuitive but a good first step to fostering a walking city is creating a municipal wireless internet such as those being implemented by numerous American cities and being investigated by Vancouver’s city council. Why? Because it is hard to encourage kids to walk to school they’ve got to carry 40 lbs worth of textbooks in their backpacks.

In fact, when it comes to transformative policies this one is particularly interesting. A citywide wireless network and an affordable laptop would allow the school system to forgo textbooks altogether making it easier not only to walk to school, but to also reduce its paper consumption. Moreover, given that computer skills are essential for entry into the workforce, the $100 (or even a $200) laptop would be one of the wisest investments we could make in our youngest citizens. I was fortunate enough to use a $100 laptop prototype when I was last in San Francisco and they are fantastic: durable, light, and designed with children in mind.

[tags]urban planning, health policy[/tags]

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