Special Report: Walkable Streets

Active Transportation is the Public Health Issue of Our Time

Hamilton has a huge head start with our many walkable prewar neighbourhoods, yet we continue to push ahead with 1970s-style car-dependent sprawl.

By Jason Leach
Published May 16, 2014

this article has been updated

This week, a very informative and pointed report came out of a collaboration between the Medical Officers of Health for Toronto, Peel, Simcoe Muskoka and Hamilton. Titled Improving Health by Design in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area [PDF], the report identifies neighbourhood design as one of the great public health issues of our time:

How we live and move impacts our health. Over a period of decades, we have removed physical activity from people’s lives including designing communities that require the use of cars. Currently, obesity and physical inactivity cost the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area (GTHA) $4 billion a year. Diabetes-related medical costs attributable to inactivity are over $550 million each year with over 12,500 new cases of diabetes occurring annually due to inactivity.

Building our communities and lives with the motor vehicle at their centre have not only contributed to inactivity, but have resulted in the longest commute times in Canada with an annual economic cost of $6 billion in lost productivity. Furthermore, traffic-related air pollution is responsible for over 850 premature deaths a year and thousands of hospitalizations.

Please note the financial cost of obesity and number of premature deaths each year.

These are massive costs that we need to take seriously when planning new communities and retrofitting older communities, such as our unbalanced streets that discourage any activity other than driving.

Peel - the poster child for GTHA sprawl - seems to have learned from its mistakes and is feverishly working to fix their region with bold investments in light rail transit, bus rapid transit, pedestrian plazas and corridors, and high density housing all through the region.

Hamilton has a huge head start with our many walkable prewar neighbourhoods, yet we continue to push ahead with 1970s-style ideas like the Aerotropolis and building new low-density car dependent housing on beautiful orchard lands in Stoney Creek.

Toronto is growing rapidly and is accommodating 100% of their growth in the existing urban area. They are being creative with mid-rise development along major corridors and hubs of high-rise communities downtown and in appropriate spots elsewhere.

Hamilton has massive urban zones with lower population than they had 50 years ago. We can not only replace that lost population, but can add in hundreds of thousands of new residents along corridors like Main, King, Barton, Centennial, Ottawa, Upper James/ Wentworth/ Gage, Mohawk and so on.

Let's not fall further into expensive, debt-producing, low density and health-destroying car-dependent development when we all know what makes a city truly healthy and financially prosperous.

We have no excuse to keep repeating the mistakes of the mid-twentieth century decade after decade.

Take a look at the poll at the bottom of this CBC Hamilton article on the report. Note the top reasons for not using active modes of transportation: not "winter weather" or "I love my car", but "Transit is inconvenient" and "Not enough bike lanes or paths".

Obviously not everyone will switch modes, but many people will when give legitimate, convenient, safe alternatives.

At some point, we need to take the evidence from Public Health and start applying it to how our traffic engineers and planners design streets and neighbourhoods. To do that, we need Council to listen to the health experts and start providing leadership.

Update: this article originally stated that the report came from the Public Health Departments, but it actually came from the Medical Officers of Health collaborating personally. RTH regrets the error.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By Jeremy S (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 15:30:06

Obviously school closures aren't helping the matter. Kids are picking up habbits that will affect them their whole life. If getting in Mom's car or catching the school bus to go across town is part of everyday life, kids won't make the same connections with their neighbourhood environment compared to kids that walk to school. Walking 1 or 2 kms isn't that big a deal if you're used to it. If you're not used to it, that kind of distance seems insurmountable.

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By WakeUP (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 18:11:54

More than a preference, doing everything we can to stop CO2 emisssions is a matter of human survival on this planet. It may already be too late, but we have to try. The next decade is going to be even more dangerous in terms of weather, rising food prices, etc. We need to wake up, people.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 00:22:21

Interesting. So Hamilton's share of the 850 deaths is 93 people poisoned and killed by car drivers each year. Profoundly disturbing.

If we assume the same ratio of deaths to injuries as in Toronto this means that every year in Hamilton car drivers poison 395 people and injure them so seriously that they have to be hospitalized.

I see from the same Medical Officer of Health data that children are particularly vulnerable to being poisoned by car drivers. Every year in Hamilton, 279 children suffer acute bronchitis episodes due to being poisoned by car drivers. Also, children in Hamilton suffer 15,810 asthma symptom days every year because they were poisoned by car drivers.

Finally, the health care costs of all these deaths and injuries due to people being poisoned by car drivers in Hamilton is $511.5 million every year. Wow. No wonder that cycling infrastructure frequently pays for itself by reductions in health-care costs.

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2014-05-17 00:46:34

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 10:28:48

Cycling to and from work has been a critical part of well being for me, what with working on computer at an office desk all day. Gets the heart rate up, lifts mood, can stop to watch the sunrise or geese by the lake, a few dollars saved on no car supports a good diet, many positives to be thankful for.

I have heard friends and coworkers ask questions, say they would love the option, but they have families and can't risk being killed in the streets. That is sad, but it also shows how latent and held back demand for active lifestyle is.

The exposure to exhaust is terrifying. Especially the diesel buses and trucks. It's the only thing I get crazy allergies from. Don't even know what to do about it. It's not a fair world :)

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By AP (registered) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 08:56:15 in reply to Comment 101374

Agreed! Even on tough days, rain pouring or snow falling, the shift in perspective of getting on my bike is a welcome and core component in my well-being. When I'm away from Hamilton and my bike for a few days, it always feels so good to get back on it again.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 16:35:51

Couldn't agree more with the article. And the harm caused by the school board amalgamating neighbourhood schools.

It makes sense that respiratory problems are caused by air pollution, but if you study this what actually happens is that cardiovascular effects are stronger yet (strokes, heart attacks etc)

Obesity related health costs are just one side of a many edged sword. Obesity and associated diseases strongly predict unemployment and 'disability'. So these folks, through 1) poor urban design (government's fault), 2) empty calories (capitalism's fault) and 3) laziness/inactivity (patient's fault) both contribute no taxes and seriously drain resources in everything from health care to income support to mobility buses.

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By OMG (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 22:54:29

You can prove just about anything with stats if you monkey about with the assumptions.

It could be argued that cars actually have increased life expectancy. Post industrial society, largely driven by automobile production in the last 70 years, coincides with massive increases in life expectancy not seen in human history.

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By Yup. (anonymous) | Posted May 18, 2014 at 16:09:44 in reply to Comment 101383

Yup. You're right. RTH has a tendency to use the stats that are favourable to their argument, but not tell you the "why" or "how" behind the numbers (eg. over-include or over-exclude to make a point). One of the huge things that is annoying with this site - it sorely needs a "stats area" where we can see, at a glance, where the numbers come from so we can do our own math, or come to our own conclusions.

But hey, it's their prerogative, they pay to run the site however they want, and I don't believe they have a mission statement anywhere that says they aim to provide fair, balanced, and unbiased information anywhere.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 18, 2014 at 16:45:35 in reply to Comment 101396

Oh bullshit. This site points to it's sources all the time. This is an article about a study by medical officers of health that links right to the study! Either you're really bad at paying attention or, far more likely, you just don't like the message and want to smear the messengers.

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By Yup. (anonymous) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 17:14:48 in reply to Comment 101398

Bullshit nothing. If you bothered to read, I didn't say that sources weren't quoted, I said that stats are skewed. Perception's a funny thing, isn't it?

I also didn't say it was related to this article, more in general (see: most of the LRT articles posted as of late).

I have no agenda, don't really care to smear anyone. I'm glad you're so good at jumping to conclusions and how brutish your response is. Thanks for trolling though. This site has enough.

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By Connie (registered) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 20:30:47 in reply to Comment 101418

What's your evidence that "the stats are skewed"?

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 18:40:34 in reply to Comment 101418

You wrote that this site "sorely needs a "stats area" where we can see, at a glance, where the numbers come from so we can do our own math, or come to our own conclusions." If you want to see where the numbers come from and do your own math, just READ THE ORIGINAL REPORTS AND STUDIES that are linked from this site.

This site has more than enough trolling thanks to drive-by smears like your's. Either post something constructive or go somewhere else to spew your garbahe.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 18:09:42 in reply to Comment 101418

This thread is about a medical officer's report that active transportation is a low hanging fruit to build activity into people daily routine, and the health benefits that will ensue. If you want to whine about our LRT stats, at least go over to that thread. I'm genuinely interested in what people have to say about active transportation and its benefits and challenges. Leave the war outside please.

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By si (anonymous) | Posted May 18, 2014 at 20:06:19 in reply to Comment 101398

So,god says it is true! And so it is. Logic be damned

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 18, 2014 at 21:53:06 in reply to Comment 101400

So you're saying that the various medical officers of health were divinely inspired when they wrote the report? Oookaay.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 20, 2014 at 18:44:41

Exercise is always good for you. So is healthy living. But so was the industrial revolution. I think we should continue to study and investigate cleaner and more efficient means of private transportation (and public for that matter.) People should not smoke, or drink to excess; Or take non-medically prescribed drugs; Or beat their partners or children. and they should be kind to one another.

I agree with OMG. I would need to know what evidence and science is involved in making such a blanket statement as is made by the Medical Officers of Health. A healthy life is probably the goal of living. If life expectancy truly has co-undecided with, and has been caused by post-industrial society, then I am all for industrialization. That does not excuse waste or excess. But as they say, maybe the proof of the stats is in the tasting of the pudding.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2014 at 08:22:55 in reply to Comment 101421

There is an enormous weight of evidence that neighbourhood design is a very important factor in health. People who live in neighbourhoods where it is easy to walk and cycle, where a variety of destinations are within walking/cycling distance, and where transit is convenient and accessible, engage in more active transportation than people who live in less healthy, car-dependent neighbourhoods. As a result, they have lower rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression and other lifestyle-related conditions.

The Medical Officers of Health are saying we should ensure that neighbourhoods are designed so it is easy to enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle. They are not saying we should abandon industrialization - that is a ridiculous strawman and does not help the discussion.

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By Connie (registered) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 21:00:11 in reply to Comment 101421

" I would need to know what evidence and science is involved in making such a blanket statement as is made by the Medical Officers of Health. "

You could click the link in the article above to find the info you seek.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2014 at 07:33:31 in reply to Comment 101426

Of course I clicked both the CBC link and the link to the propaganda sheet. They contain conclusions only.

There is a documentary called "Homo Sapiens 1900" that traces the rise and the fall of the eugenics movement. The "science" at the time suggested that, amongst other things, humanity was disintegrating because of lack of physical activity, movement away from the farm, too many articles of convenience, too easy modes of transportation, the automobile, etc. etc. The Eugenicists argued that by manipulating birth through selection and changing the environment we could quickly and significantly alter human evolution. We know where that led.

There are studies in Baltimore from ten years ago about how failure to spend money on road infrastructure caused health problems.

My agreement with OMG is that statistics can be manipulated very easily to support almost any hypothesis. You need to look deeply into the statistics and not some colorful brochure, to critically analyze the data that supports the conclusion.

Traffic congestion increases pollution. Pollution is bad. Why not reduce congestion by allowing traffic to move more freely - not less freely? Because "that will "encourage" more traffic which will cause more pollution" say some. Chicken and egg.

I would start with parents controlling video games and school re-implementing mandatory physical education. You can't ban cigarettes or alcohol or pot, but you can set a good example for your children and not use the stuff. I suspect fast food, carbonated drinks, lack of balanced diets, poor education and parenting, are as much if not more to be blamed for obesity and diabetes than automobile transportation. The brochure is devoid of this information. Where are the blind studies?

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2014-05-21 07:38:38

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2014 at 08:37:24 in reply to Comment 101432

Of course I clicked both the CBC link and the link to the propaganda sheet. They contain conclusions only.

If you want to read the full report rather than the executive summary, it's not exactly hard to find.

There is a documentary called "Homo Sapiens 1900" that traces the rise and the fall of the eugenics movement.

Are you seriously comparing public health efforts to encourage healthy lifestyles with eugenics?

Traffic congestion increases pollution. Pollution is bad. Why not reduce congestion by allowing traffic to move more freely - not less freely? Because "that will "encourage" more traffic which will cause more pollution" say some.

The evidence for induced demand is clear, widespread and undeniable. When a city makes it easier to drive, more people drive longer distances more frequently, increasing the total air pollution. Even though Hamilton is a centre of heavy industry, more than half of our air pollution comes from tailpipes after more than half a century of commitment to fast, smooth traffic flow.

Making it easier to drive also has the side effect of making it harder to walk or cycle, since wider streets and faster traffic are dangerous and unpleasant, and all the extra asphalt necessary for driving and parking pushes destinations far apart.

I think your real problem is that you just don't like evidence that contradicts your worldview, and it's easier to wave your hands and insinuate the evidence is "manipulated" than to engage with it directly and revise your pre-existing opinions in the light of new data.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2014-05-21 08:45:39

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2014 at 16:52:59 in reply to Comment 101434

Eugenics is a perfect example of Public Health gone haywire. Based initially on a seemingly logical and scientific basis, some very respectable people advanced the concept of forced sterilization. Nellie McClung, one of the heroes of Canadian Feminism and a person recognized by Ottawa with a statue on Parliament Hill was, with other feminists, a proponent of Eugenics, which means “well born” and uses the breeding ideas for cattle and other animals toward humans. Darwin’s grandson founded the British branch of Eugenics and the idea of improving society by selective breeding soon caught on in the frontier lands. “In 1924, the United Farm Women of Alberta, led by the likes of Irene Parlby, Emily Murphy and Nellie McClung, launched a massive campaign of support for the implementation of a province-wide sterilization plan.” According to Emily Murphy, the first Canadian woman Magistrate: "Insane people are not entitled to progeny." Nellie McClung, who became MLA for the province of Alberta in the 20’s, argued that legislation was needed for forced sterilizationa and that "young simple-minded girls," would particularly benefit. Mrs. Margaret Gunn, the President of the United Farm Women of Alberta campaigned for Eugenics with the statement “democracy was never intended for degenerates.”

In the United States, tens of thousands of people were sterilized by force. The programs continued in Sweden until well after the Second War and the Swedish laws were not repealed until the 1990's I believe.

It is simply a point - an example. And yes it may be fair to compare. It is irrefutable that private transportation has been the single biggest catalyst to world wide industrialization. That has increased the life expectancy for everyone on the planet. The counter to that is that the world is being poisoned by industrialization and that it needs to be reined in.

Private transportation has many good aspects to it. You can be healthy and have a road that leads to your home such that you can drive to work without getting on a bus or sitting in traffic. The onus is on you to take care of your health.

I am not waving my hands in the air claiming evidence has been manipulated to support my preexisting opinions. Every hypothesis starts with a preexisting opinion. Evidence either supports it or doesn't. I am saying that I highly doubt that the panacea for the health of the nation is active transportation.

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2014-05-21 16:57:15

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2014 at 17:08:48 in reply to Comment 101475

I'm sorry, but when you try to draw a parallel between street design that encourages walking and, um, forced sterilization to improve the gene pool, your point has already lost any credibility it might have brought to the discussion. To put it bluntly, this is a strawman of the first order; and by only slight extension it also serves as a classic instance of Godwin's Law. That in itself should alert you to the extent that you're willing to go through mental gymnastics to protect your worldview.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2014 at 18:40:44 in reply to Comment 101480

No, I just don't put a lot of credence into Officers of Public Health. I agree it is a strong analogy - but definitely not a straw man. Many bad things are done in the name of "good" public health. Maybe using the public health argument is the straw man?

(I never mentioned Nazi's who are hardly comparable to McLung or the people of the 29 states who passed the U.S. laws or Sweden. Eugenics was a perfectly plausible but ultimately incorrect Public Health policy adopted by many good people.)

And wasn't that OMG's original point? At least that is the point I was agreeing with and that is, that I hardly think that the health benefits or walking or cycling are anything more than but one of a plethora of factors to go into road planning.

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2014-05-21 18:59:28

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 21, 2014 at 08:58:48 in reply to Comment 101434

it's easier to wave your hands and insinuate the evidence is "manipulated" than to engage with it directly and revise your pre-existing opinions

That is actually true, it is why human beliefs are so difficult to change.

"If information doesn’t square with someone’s prior beliefs, he discards the beliefs if they’re weak and discards the information if the beliefs are strong."

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2014 at 16:55:08 in reply to Comment 101437

Read Thomas Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions". I am aware of that debate. What you are initiating is a huge debate. My only point was that I highly doubt that the Medical Officers of Health have analyzed the problem to the detail suggested by their conclusions.

A good example is plastics. Plastics have undoubtedly increased life expectancy. Yet, improper production techniques and lack of respect for the consequences of pollution led to things like Love Canal. You can have both. Plastics and responsible production.

We live in a culture which has expanded almost exponentially given the rise of private transportation. If that can be advanced while reducing pollution, that would be a good goal - no? Or, put it another way, If I could prove that we could virtually eliminate pollution from tailpipes and keep private transportation, would you agree?

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2014-05-21 16:58:58

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 21, 2014 at 17:50:48 in reply to Comment 101477

What you are initiating is a huge debate.

Oh for sure, was just a reminder that we (in general) always see things our way!

If I could prove that we could virtually eliminate pollution from tailpipes and keep private transportation, would you agree?

Yes I agree with you completely! Another example about plastics, I'm seeing biodegradable plastic on store shelves; it's a start, and will go mainstream. That was the point of my previous comment regarding tech - a tide that is lifting all boats - we're getting across the board benefits when not abused and overused. Just like beer, exercise, the internet, juicy delicious steaks, cheesecakes - all are pure awesome, but bad for you when abused. We're heading into a century of awesome, for sure. Hopefully not too late for planetary life support. And not as quickly as some of us who aren't getting any younger would like. But clean tech is arriving indeed.

My only point was that I highly doubt that the Medical Officers of Health have analyzed the problem to the detail suggested by their conclusions.

I think I get what you're saying - you are positing, what would be the differences, if the scope of the study had included "what if the technologies responsible for the problems in this report, had never existed."

A very logical question, but I propose it is a flawed one, for this reason. The report is studying what is already here. It's like a prescription, if you will. These are the problems that exist now and here are some things that work now to alleviate them. Specifically, health and sedentary issues are a problem, building cities to be more pleasant to get around in, and be active in, will help alleviate that issue and raise quality of life for the patient.

Imagining what would have been if cars were never invented, is neither relevant nor useful to alleviating having already overdone the polluting and danger of cars today. Those kinds of what ifs are in the realm of pure thought experiment. We can do such thought experiments for all sorts of things - how would modern civilization have advanced if petroleum was not abundant on earth. Or if the ancient Aztecs had invented the transistor and the computing revolution happened millennia ago. Fascinating, but pure thought experiment. No connection to things we can do today, to help alleviate some challenges we've created for ourselves.

New tech is a part of that. Getting some people outside, on their feet or on two wheels is part of that. If you're neighborhood is attractive to go jogging in, that helps too. Each thing is a part of raising our health and quality of life. Kid may play too much xbox but if he skateboards to school instead of being driven by parents? These guys did a great job of putting into more formal language, what some of us, myself included, consider blindingly obvious - if it is pleasant to go outside more, you will go outside more, and your health, and collectively all our mental and physical health, will improve. It's like doc encouraging you to eat balanced. You are free to disagree and eat however you like. Doesn't mean doc was wrong or gave you bad advice.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2014 at 18:37:11 in reply to Comment 101488

So I guess you agree as well that we should ban fast food, coke, pot, alcohol etc. and force people to exercise? Isn't that the real "low hanging fruit?"

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2014-05-21 18:53:54

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2014 at 18:55:54 in reply to Comment 101489

Sorry, shouldn't have said ban - should have said create environments that would reduce such as get rid of drive through lanes, build more gyms, tax coke, keep pot banned, etc. etc.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 21, 2014 at 19:32:03 in reply to Comment 101494

Oh, as far as reducing things - remember that we rely on municipalities all the time for zoning and land use control. The same councilors that prevent a smelter from going up beside your house, make other rules too, such as banning chickens, or restricting drive thrus. It's all about balance, right? Drive thrus do cause problems, so some neighborhoods might vote to ban them. That is their right. Other neighborhoods restrict the quantity or location. That isn't draconian prohibition or eugenics, that is land management. It's done all the time. Extra health tax on coke? I say no. I generally advocate for the european model of letting grown adults manage themselves. So I don't have the answers. If we filled out a survey based on your specific examples, we'd all answer differently. As far as comparisons to eugenics, yeah it is very much absurd when used as a reason not to listen to advocates of activity friendly neighborhoods.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2014 at 19:47:37 in reply to Comment 101500

It wasn't absurd to the people in the 29 U.S. States who voted to implement the laws. (Eugenics wasn't draconian in Sweden - it was completely voluntary.) And it is just a good example of Public Health decisions that made bad public policy. It makes a dramatic point. (Probably Eugenics is too loaded a word and detracts from OMG's original point that it is hardly likely that statistics show that car driving causes diabetes.)

I want an active healthy neighborhood. I just want lots of 400 series highways as well. I don't need some Officer of Public health telling me that because traffic congestion is gong to go up in the next 20 years that the answer is more traffic congestion and to try and convince me that diabetes is caused by driving cars.

Bike pathways yes. Efficient roadways yes. They are not mutually exclusive. Ergo, I suspect your comment below.

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2014-05-21 19:56:58

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 21, 2014 at 21:00:26 in reply to Comment 101501

I want an active healthy neighborhood. I just want lots of 400 series highways as well.

All good. I agree and share a desire for smooth flowing highways. The characteristics of the former will help the latter. Converting some trips to non-car will keep some cars off the highway. If we keep building to discourage activity, put everything far apart big box Roman villa style, and make it stressful to go outside, so you only leave the house on business as quickly as possible without loitering, then no matter how many 400 highways there are, they'll be congested and life will suck. Linc and Red Hill are already congested as some complain, and they're new highways. When the mid-pen gets built, it will be hailed as a sweet relief when it first opens. The sprawl that will inevitably congest it, is already expanding forever outwards. I will bet untold square kilometers of new subdivisions and big box crap is already awaiting development. It isn't working. So in addition to having enough highways to meet our needs, we have to change something else too, what we are doing is terminally congesting our highways. It is as effective as a heroin addict chasing the next fix. We will always need another highway, another lane. I mean my god, the 400 north of the 401 has gotta be 12 lanes wide by now, in total, and it is still not enough.

I just watched a Mythbusters where they simulated congestion. 22 cars was too much for their test track, it jammed up. They removed just two cars, and 20 cars got up to speed and stayed steady. Getting just a few people onto a GO train is decent pressure off 400 highways. Rezoning to make it easier to house more people close to the GO station is a great idea, and would be consistent with the spirit of what the report is suggesting.

That's all this report is saying - look at how you build, and what it's doing, and that we can do better. Among many things, some design changes take pressure off the whole system. 400 highways included. Unfortunately much real estate is already fixed and its repartitioning causes much dissension. So some things are mutually exclusive inside the city, unfortunately. That's where some smart planning helps.

To conclude ... so you build so you never want to go anywhere, end up ordering pizza and playing xbox instead of skateboarding across the street, the only vacancy you found was too far from the GO station so you sit on the 400 highway getting dosed with stress and inactivity and morning talk radio ... holy smokes is that ever unhealthy. Of course it's not a direct cause of diabetes, but our style of development increases the instances of it, by making it that much harder to stay healthy. I know this first hand. So much of what I've said is from experience as well. That was as well as I could explain it ... hope that was of some use applying their report to "everyday life". It's not totalitarian or eugenic to take their advice, it's smart stewardship of a community.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-05-21 21:14:00

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 21, 2014 at 18:59:45 in reply to Comment 101494

Oh I see. Yeah, it's tough. There are extremes on both sides. And it's not so much "sides" as a complex smattering of issues on which we all have varying opinions. Mandatory vegetarianism, for example, has been half-seriously suggested, I think in UK govt if I recall. To me that is just as criminal and violating as a mandatory draft for Iraq. Totally hear you, psychos exist on the health nut side of things too.

It's always a matter of perspective, isn't it. For example, I consider a backyard chicken ban an affront to personal freedom. But I wouldn't really care if drive thrus were banned. Someone else, considers drive thru bans an affront to freedom but doesn't give a rat's behind about a bike lane let alone pet chicken.

And that, my friend, is also a deep debate of its own, and why human politics has always been so difficult. We don't see things the same, and have to work together. So to paraphrase Doc, pretty please, with sugar on top, just build some bloody bike lanes and road crossings, and build smarter, so that we can bike to school or work or because the sun is shining and it's nice out.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-05-21 19:06:45

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 20, 2014 at 19:15:51 in reply to Comment 101421

As with everything on this planet, resources and technologies are good if used responsibly, bad if used irresponsibly (including to excess). We're really lucky at this point in time, some long awaited technologies are arriving.

Private travel is undergoing revolution, in fact has been for a while, just starting to go mainstream now. Electrification of cars is beginning. And even in the meantime, more and more new cars stop their motors when at a stop. The light turns green and I hear motors kicking back on. That is so cool and it really helps emissions a lot. The car saved its owner some gas, and I noticed it and was grateful while biking in mixed traffic briefly.

Speaking of biking, electrification of bikes is really getting good now, lithium battery tech is getting pretty good thanks to the e-car revolution underway. Basically I've got an electric motorcycle that is free of licensing overhead simply because it's speed governed. But the tech is so cool , and it's only breaking the ice.

Good things to private transport are totally happening, and they'll phase in over years and decades per replacement rate of vehicles, so not all that quickly, but at an accelerating rate; the tipping point looks like it's getting there!

The political apparatus seems to be lagging the innovation that exists, especially frightening are instances of places like even Canada or Australia going backwards on environmental regulation. When the masses start booing and jeering the genuine, intelligent, diligent and thorough scientists of our time, it is a signal that we're in real trouble.

Anyway, what new tech does not resolve, is the basic and obvious math of increasing population versus congestion. The more private space you take up during a rush hour commute, the more congested things will be as urban centers both intensify and expand their boundaries. So we have many cities and combinations of features to look to, for data and as examples. Why not get some people on two wheels, people who are dying to get more exercise each day, I guarantee it, because I've heard it - "I'd love to cycle more, but it's too dangerous". Thus, a network of bike lanes and safety features will help a lot as part of a balanced application of the fruits of human innovation.

A balanced approach of all the tools our human species has innovated are useful. New tech is doing it's part and advancing rapidly; cities have had time to gather modern and detailed data on what helps as far as public transit; cities have implemented active transportation policies with amazing results. The trick is the right balances, the right education campaigns, and the right people to make them happen. The GTHA is showing some symptoms of a leadership and ethics vacuum. Hope it works out.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-05-20 19:20:54

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2014 at 17:08:27 in reply to Comment 101423

This is a good post.

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