A wonderful article in The City Fix begins:
Many cities around the globe are home to dangerous roads, social stigmas that bicycling is “for the poor,” and urban designs that neglect walking and bicycling. Photo by Slightly-less-random.
Cities around the globe are seeing a creeping problem of growing physical inactivity, due in part to the lack of pleasurable every-day walking and bicycling. While in some cities there are ample facilities for a refreshing commute on bicycle, a leisurely stroll to the neighborhood market or park, or the ability to walk to high-quality public transport, many of the world’s metropolises are home to dangerous roads, social stigmas that bicycling is “for the poor,” and urban designs that neglect walking and bicycling.
According to the article, physical inactivity - sitting on your bum, driving everywhere, channel surfing - causes 3.2 million deaths annually. This number will rise as countries like China and Brazil increase their ranks of middle class car owning people.
To counteract this, planners and government officials need to become aware of the economic, health, and other benefits of building dense cities with public transportation and parks.
Another trickier issue is that of the social stigma of walking and or cycling. In developing countries, a pedestrian or cyclist is perceived of as poor and lacking any other alternatives. That will take time.
Here in Kyoto, there has never been a stigma towards walking or cycling or riding public transportation. It is a way of life.
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