Monday, 4 July 2011

Infrastructure Modification


Health effects

A lack of physical activity is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide.
A sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity can contribute to or be a risk factor for:
  • Anxiety
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Mortality in elderly men by 30% and double the risk in elderly women
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Colon cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis
  • Lipid disorders
  • Kidney Stones


One response that has been adopted by many organizations concerned with health and environment is the promotion of active travel, which seeks to promote walking and cycling as safe and attractive alternatives to motorized transport. Given that many journeys are for relatively short distances, there is considerable scope to replace car use with walking or cycling, though in many settings this may require some infrastructure modification.



Infrastructure Modification

He has just been awarded with one of those Disabled Parking Spaces directly outside his house. It was newly painted-in last month and it looks lovely with his new 'motability' SUV all nice and clean parked in it - it's as if it's an extra extension (like a loft conversion or conservatory) to the house! But it's free! It all falls into place once you get the blue badge. Neighbours have watched his sad disability progress over the years until now it reached this crisis requiring special facilities, allowances and entitlements. Over the span of his working life, as he became more successful in business, he treated himself to nicer and nicer cars - why not? A new one every year - the very latest models with all the gadgets and stuff. And as he progressed perquisite upon perquisite up the corporate ladder he was awarded a dedicated space in the company car-park nearer and nearer to the management suite - noblesse oblige! Bigger cars matched his ever bigger mass as his status and success became evident in his puffing waddling stature.

But as his paunch-padded comfort in the Jag or Beemer increased, so the affluence of the town around him increased and more and more of his neighbours got cars, then second cars - competition for on-street parking space close to the house increased almost monthly. Inconvenient! Annoying! He sometimes found himself having to park round the corner when he got home late from the office. Walking as much as 100 metres from the car to the front door showed that the years of living a life behind closed doors - the doors of his house, the doors of his office and the doors of his cars - had taken their toll. Breathlessness, flushing, sweat, knee trouble, exhaustion. Chest pains. Something had to give. He needed to park closer to the house.

Angina, diabetes, hypertension, lower back pain, gout, osteoarthritis and the poor mobility these cause have all blighted the man's life. But the chronic condition underlying all these acute symptoms is nothing other than the motorcentric sedentary lifestyle of which which his obesity is the inevitable result. Over the years, this man has become fatter and fatter, with all the concomitant conditions and societal costs. And the civic response to this self-inflicted disability? The civic response is to give pride of place to the agent of this man's dis-enablement, thus further enabling and normalising that dis-enablement and the self-disfiguring, self-damaging, self-abusive lifestyle to which it binds its subject. The strange-loop solipsism of the focal enshrinement of the motorised harbinger of obesogenic sedentarism once its inevitable omega point has been attained indicates that we approach an event horizon beyond which it will become impossible to plan or provide for modes of transport other than the private motor car, let alone imagine that any alternatives, such as actually walking - just a little - once in a while, really do exist.



Automobile dependency implies that cities where automobiles are the predominant transport deny their residents not only freedom of choice about the way they live and move around the city but also that the culture of automobile use has produced a kind of addiction to them. The analogy is made with addictions to harmful substances and activities because of the well-known law of diminishing returns in relation to increasing use or participation: the more that is used, the less of the desired effect is gained until a point is reached where the substance or activity has to be maintained to remain 'normal', a state of dependency.


Peter Burnett said...

It needed to be said; I like it.

The weird sight we face every day, is that even though many urban streets/areas were built with cars in mind, the planners never foresaw there would be so many of them. They underestimated by about 50% the dicks!

Thanks again,

Story Quine said...

Sad thing is, when REALLY disabled folk like my dad, who lost both legs in an industrial accident, cannot get a parking space for love nor money in Aberdeen - and he has a city Green badge, yet any old joe bloggs dumps their car in it - outside Lewis's, next to E&M's old building, etc - I think I'm going to start naming and shaming!!!