Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Town planning blamed for obesity

"Poor town planning which limits opportunities for children to take exercise has been blamed for fuelling an increase in obesity.

Leading US paediatrician Professor Richard Jackson called for a rethink in the way towns and cities are developed."

"How a neighbourhood is designed dictates how people get around, for example walking or bicycling versus automobile use."

Professor Jackson, who is professor in both public health and urban design at the University of California at Berkeley, said technology had brought both "good" and "bad" news.

Labour saving technology

He said: "Technology has eliminated a lot of the really backbreaking labour from our lives.

"But we have also "designed" a lot of incidental exercise out of our lives, such as walking.

"In 1969, 48% of American students (90% of those who lived within a mile) walked or bicycled to school.

"In 1999, only 19% of children walked to or from school and 6% rode bicycles to school."

Dr Ian Campbell, medical director of the charity Weight Concern, said Professor Jackson was "absolutely right".

He said: "The development of obesity in the past 30 years is a direct result of environmental change.

"The fact that environment sustainability and health are inextricably linked needs to be recognised by politicians and public health officials and definitive action taken.

"Then, and only then, will we see decreases in levels of childhood obesity in this country."


Link to full story.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bloomfield Bike Lane Letters to the Editor

There's been quite a spirited debate going on in the Post-Gazette's letters to the editor section about the bike lanes and shared lane markings that will go through Bloomfield this spring. Here they are for your enjoyment. We'd love to read your thoughts so please post comments:

All From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Letter to the editor, 09/01/06
Inconsiderate cyclists
I read with interest the article about a new bike lane on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield ("Bicycle Lanes Gain Support on Long Stretch of Liberty Ave.," Aug. 28).
I work for a delivery service and cover the city very regularly; therefore the idea of sharing the road is laughable. Bike riders are consistently reckless and uncaring about traffic lights or signs or any driving protocol. They pass when and how they wish.
When they get licenses of some sort, or show some kind of road courtesy, then they will be entitled to road sharing.

JERRY MORRIS

Lawrenceville

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Letter to the editor, 09/07/06
Inconsiderate others
I sympathize with the dilemma that Jerry Morris faces with inconsiderate cyclists (Sept. 1 letter). But I do take umbrage at Mr. Morris seemingly putting all cyclists into this category.
I ride my bicycle from the Strip District to Downtown, and I make sure that I obey all traffic laws to the best of my ability. As a cyclist I have to deal with reckless and uncaring buses, cars and most often pedestrians. It is amazing how many pedestrians walk out in front of traffic either against the light or in the middle of the street.
So long as gas and parking prices remain high and the population Downtown and in surrounding areas increases, I can guarantee that the number of cyclists on the road is only going to increase.
Nothing would suit me better than if I didn't have to share the road with vehicles and pedestrians. The bottom line, Mr. Morris, is that if I have to put up with you on the road, then you have to put up with me.

ROBERT J. BOSCIA

Ross

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Letters to the editor, 09/11/06
Two-wheeled danger
Warmest thanks to Jerry Morris ("Inconsiderate Cyclists," Sept. 1 letter) for raising the serious problem of cyclists running through lights and ignoring the rules that the rest of us -- motorists and pedestrians -- have to obey.
Recently, I nearly killed a cyclist who, in complete darkness and without lights or a helmet, flew through a red light on Penn Avenue as I was edging forward on a green. This cyclist, traveling at 30-40 mph and completely invisible until about 6 feet away, shot through a light that had been solidly red for 10 or 15 seconds. I had to stop my car on the other side of the road to get over the shock of so nearly killing another person.
Many of us tend to sympathize with cyclists because cycling is healthy, ecologically friendly, etc. So we feel for them when they complain about being pushed off the road and abused by car owners. But many cyclists seem to be governed by a rebel spirit that rejects the mundane restrictions imposed on other road users -- when the Pennsylvania Driver's Manual specifically states that bicycles are covered by all its rules and even notes as an example that "All bicyclists, just like motorists, are required to stop at red lights."
What kind of "courage" or "individualism" is it that justifies so blatantly endangering other people and often ends up piling more work on already overworked doctors and nurses in emergency rooms? Why do cyclists feel they are above the law, yet entitled to emergency medical treatment when they flout it? Will some cyclist explain how and when cyclists acquired their immunity from reasonable rules and common courtesy? Doesn't "share the road" work both ways?

MARTIN STANILAND

Point Breeze

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Respect for cyclists
I have to take issue with Jerry Morris' Sept. 1 letter ("Inconsiderate Cyclists") concerning "consistently reckless and uncaring" bike riders and his idea that we need licenses to validate our rights.
There are certainly some bikers who fit this description, but I would say the same about some drivers. And legally, we don't need licenses to ride our bikes, so it isn't up to you or anyone else to decide on your own that we are not entitled to share the road with you. And until the laws are changed, that is the reality in which we live.
Unfortunately, many motorists labor under this delusion and act like we are simply some random obstacle. I have been knocked off my bike several times by drivers who tried to pass within 2 inches of my body. I have been hit by drivers who make sudden turns without signaling.
I do not ride recklessly. I wear a helmet and obey traffic laws. I stop when I am supposed to and signal my turns, which is more than I can say for many drivers who seem to feel that the rolling stop and unsignaled right turn is their birthright.
I deserve the same respect as other vehicles on the road, and I am happy the city is making strides to improve the lives of bikers.

ANGELA M. VESCO

South Side