“Fit Towns” Cause Fits

| 3/25/2008 5:31:05 PM

Government efforts to foster fitness have expanded from passive public service announcements to interventionist urban planning. Spiked finds attempts to create obesity-combating “fit towns” in the United Kingdom downright Orwellian. It concedes that more attractive stairways and improved lighting in parks are sensible steps. But suggest giving pedestrians and cyclists roadway priority, and Spiked grows indignant. UK lawmakers—audaciously!proposed limiting office parking to cycle-sized spaces. (Spiked’s virulent anti-bicycle commentators might commiserate with U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, who drew a link between bike path funding and Minnesota’s August bridge collapse.) Yet compared to the stupidity Salon chronicled in October of U.S. “parking requirements” that result in overabundant, frequently unoccupied pavement, urban design that encourages outdoor time and self-propelled travel seems downright sensible, not despotic.

Lisa Gulya

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