A CommuterPageBlog reader points us to this a story (School Run Car Ban Proposed, August 14) on the U.K.'s Channel 4 web site where some people are calling for 'car exclusion zones' around schools to get families to walk more and fight rising obesity rates. The cry for change is prompted by a report released August 13 by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) entitled Unfit for Purpose: How Car Use Fuels Climate Change and Obesity.
The main points of the report include:
- Since the Second World War, the continuous increase in car ownership has led to a dramatic decline in walking as a means of transport - muscle power gave way to fossil power.
- This report calculates that just by returning to the average distance walked by people in the UK without cars, the rising tide of obesity can be almost halted.
- At the same time, a substantial share of individuals' contribution to national carbon dioxide emissions could be avoided.
- The report goes on to argue that this could and should be done through renewed efforts to promote walking as transport. This would be vastly cheaper than dealing with the consequences of the obesity epidemic and climate change.
- 40% of all journeys in the UK are under 2 miles in length - distances easily covered by up to 30 minutes of brisk walking. Nonetheless, 38% of these journeys are currently by car.
- If a typical British adult were to walk just an hour more per week (equivalent to the difference in walking between a typical driver and a non-driver) this would counteract a weight increase of 2 stone (28 pounds) over a decade and a longer-term slide into obesity.
- This alone could make a major contribution to halting the trend of increasing obesity across the UK.
- The extra walking could displace at least 11 million tonnes of CO2 from cars - amounting to 15.4% of the total emissions from passenger cars.
The report author notes that "walking is the most obvious way for most people to burn calories." Seems like if we all tried to find ways to incorporate more walking into our routines we'd benefit as individuals and as a community. For more information on walking visit www.walkarlington.com.
Chris Hamilton is the Commuter Services Chief for Arlington County, manager of CommuterPageBlog and a biking/Metro commuter from Rosemont in Alexandria.