National Geograhic Photo Camp, Tangier Island, VANational Geograhic Photo Camp, Tangier Island, VA

Celebrate spring by getting out of your car and out of traffic. Dr. Cindy Parker from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says “active transport” like walking and biking is good for our health, and good for the climate. Photo credit: Dave Harp.

 

Doctor Prescribes Getting Out of Your Car
and Walking or Biking Instead

by Cindy Parker, MPH, MD

With obesity rates soaring in the United States, getting more people, including children, to walk and bike makes good sense both as a source of healthy exercise and as a way to reduce the air pollution that causes respiratory diseases and climate change. About a quarter of all car trips are one mile or less, and one in six is shorter than a half-mile. There are things people can do both themselves and as a member of their community to improve their own health and that of the people around them.

As an individual, make a personal commitment for the sake of your health to:

  • Drive less, walk more.
  • Make one weekly trip to run all your errands instead of many trips throughout the week.
  • Ride a bike. Many towns have local bicycling groups that can help you plan the best routes and find riding partners.

As a member of your community, there are also things you can do to make it easier and safer for everyone to walk and bike. Work with local policy makers to make your community more friendly to bikers and walkers.  A lot of suburbs and even some cities don’t have sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk in the street. Newer cities and suburbs have been built especially for our car culture and are not pedestrian friendly. Adding bike lanes and sidewalks, closing some streets to vehicular traffic to encourage more pedestrian and bicycle use, and rejuvenating areas to include a variety of local shops and interesting streetscapes can all help reduce the number of miles people travel in their cars.

Excerpted from “Climate Chaos: Your Health at Risk. What You Can Do to Protect Yourself and Your Family” by Cindy L. Parker and Steven M. Shapiro, available at Amazon and Google books.