The problem with the analysis presented in this conference, as reported by HealthyCal—that car use resulting from suburban design is responsible for health—is contrary to the reality that people are responsible for their health, and as independent agents rather than rats on a treadmill, they will decide what methods they prefer to compensate for any unhealthful effects—though it would seem the reverse is closer to the truth—the suburban environment and car use, imposes.
People have shown throughout history that they prefer to live in suburbs and one aspect of a more car-oriented lifestyle is the development of the fitness business, which basically didn’t exist decades ago, but now, is a huge business contributing to our economy and the nation’s health.
An excerpt from the HealthyCal article.
“Health policy, Dr. Richard Jackson says, is about more than medical care. It is about farm policy. Transportation. Housing. And so much more.
“Because how healthy we are is determined largely by where and how we live.
“Jackson, a professor of Environmental Health Services at the UCLA School of Public Health and the former state health officer for California, is an expert on the connections between urban design and health. He was the lead speaker at a conference in Sacramento last month that brought together environmentalists, planners, physicians and developers to share ideas and look for common ground on issues connecting the urban environment and health.
“Jackson traces many of our current health problems to our dependency on the automobile. And that, he says, was an unintended consequence of public health reforms a century ago that separated residential, commercial and industrial uses to reduce disease.
“We have built America around cars,” Jackson said. “We have not built it around people.”
“Jackson noted that America has more cars than it has licensed drivers. And while he said crashes kill about 40,000 people a year, he estimates that pollution from vehicles leads to premature death for more people than that.
“But that is only the beginning of the problem. Our dependence on cars has made walking passé and created a culture hostile to bicycling. The result is a society in which few people move under their own power, starting with children.
“Often in the neighborhoods we build, the only way to get from one place to another is by car,” he said.”