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Thread: Does urban planning need strategic physical activity plans?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    On the heels of my earlier post, I was wondering what you folks think about the concept of strategic physical activity plans for metropolitant areas with collaboration between urban planners and public health people to arrive at development, land use, zoning etc. decisions always have the endgoal of physical activity in mind? Do you think they are fessible, redundant etc. in metropolitan ares?

    I guess I should elaborate: a region near me is piloting an initiative whereby all development decision would be both statistically modelled and reviewed by public health officials, as to their potential impact on physical activity levels.

    Your thoughts?
    Moderator note:
    Maister - this interesting issue has broader ramifications beyond an individual career. Moved to Make No Small Plans
    Last edited by Maister; 12 Jan 2010 at 2:55 PM. Reason: sequential posts and moved thread

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by sneakers View post

    Your thoughts?
    Aside from the obvious empirical, methodology and enforcement problems, I have a vision that our political climate down here wouldn't allow such socialist, big gummint, fraydum-stealing, Obama-loving, fiscally-irresponsible schemes except in the few towns where you'd expect them to get passed.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by sneakers View post
    I guess I should elaborate: a region near me is piloting an initiative whereby all development decision would be both statistically modelled and reviewed by public health officials, as to their potential impact on physical activity levels.

    Your thoughts?
    BOLD. That doesn't mean "bad" ... but I think it is bold in that with shrinking revenues, municipal governments do indeed have to work hard to justify expenditures on things that some people (okay, probably more likely to be MANY people) see as frivolous or extraneous. The future public health benefit is a long-term gain, but in the here and now, it's really hard to talk about the future payoffs (perhaps less spending on public health in terms of health care for serious diseases relating to lack of exercise, poor nutrition, etc.) when the local firefighters and police are being threatened with layoffs ...

    In any case, I think the idea has merit, but then it also has to be decided what happens after such modeling - is a new standard to be developed that must be met with regards to physical activity levels?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I think linking planning more directly with public health is a goal that many have paid lip service to but which I do not see a lot of in approved plans. I think the key to getting acceptance of the approach would be to connect it strongly to other more essential aspects of plans.

    For example, linking it to the creation of multiple transportation options or even multi-modal street designs helps to promote the idea of (and I forget the terms you used) biking or bus/walking to work/store and for exercise while linking it to the possibility of relieving congestion, making the city desirable for business to locate there, promotin/improving health, getting those without cars to and from work centers, etc.

    In my professional project on trail design, I recall that there were stats showing that people who lived within a certain distance of a hike and/or bike trail made it a LOT (again, I can't recall the numbers) more likely that they would use the amenity. So, it follows that the more people that are closer to such amenities, the more will use it. That's a good argument for establishing or expanding an urban trail network. It also increases property values, which increases property taxes and therefore, revenue for the City.

    If you can link these ideas to other concerns (reduced congestion, saving or making money for the City, civic projects that employ people, etc.) you will have a better chance of getting buy-in. I think its a lot about the angle form which you approach it.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    I think linking planning more directly with public health is a goal that many have paid lip service to but which I do not see a lot of in approved plans. I think the key to getting acceptance of the approach would be to connect it strongly to other more essential aspects of plans.
    .
    IME it is better to do this - esp in these economic times - as an ancillary benefit rather than a primary. A justification for something else, IOW.

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