Thursday, July 14, 2011

Community Health Improvement Plan Should Encourage Bicycling

In the Statesman today is a list of the top 10 health issues in Marion County:
  • Adults who are obese
  • Adults engaging in regular physical activity
  • Teens who engage in regular physical activity
  • Adults with asthma
  • Age-adjusted death rate because of colorectal cancer
  • Prenatal care
  • Senior pneumonia vaccination rates
  • Teen fruit and vegetable consumption
  • Teen pregnancy rate
  • Teens who use marijuana
Making it easy, safe, and convenient for people to choose to bike for short trips of 3 miles or less directly addresses the first three items on the list. Unfortunately, the current transportation system, set up for and incentivizing the drive-alone car trip, encourages a host of inactive, isolating, and ultimately unhealthy choices.

In the article, Sharon Heuer, director of community benefit for Salem Hospital, suggested
the Salem-Keizer area might be able to influence cancer-related outcomes through the resources and expertise offered by the Salem Cancer Institute, she said. But smaller communities without cancer-specific clinics or leadership might not choose to target the issue in order to make a bigger impact elsewhere.
How about prevention and ordinary actions? Through a business, city, and county commitment to active transportation, some of these adverse health outcomes - and healthcare costs - can be avoided entirely! Biking's a lot cheaper than a hospital stay.

Four meetings will kick off the planning.
Led by the Marion County Health Department, the Community Health Improvement Plan focuses on engaging local residents and allowing them to set health goals and a course of action for their area....[Silverton Hospital], Salem Hospital, Santiam Memorial Hospital and Wellspring Medical Center will address health issues in their respective communities in the coming weeks.

Each of the four communities will set its own three to five health priorities and brainstorm ways to intervene.
The meeting at Salem Hospital is by invitation only, and will be at 7:30am next Wednesday.

So, what do you say, let's make Salem a world-class bicycling city! And for the county? Instead of disincentivizing bicycle travel by increased tolls on the ferry, how about encouraging bike travel! Stuff like that...

(Bottom: Smart Cycling Clinic by Jeff Leach)


Doug's Transportation Ramblings said...

Several years ago, the CDC indicated that our built environment was contributing to our decline health. While the road planners typically do include sidewalks and bike lanes in road expansion projects, those facilities are designed to avoid any impediment to the flow of motor vehicle traffic, rather than to provide a safe and comfortable environment for pedestrians and bicyclists. Not surprisingly, few people see walking and bicycling along these facilities as attractive options. The narrow streets of European cities provide a pleasant walking experience in which motor vehicles are the intruders, rather than the other way around. I came away from my recent trip there having concluded that the planners have nearly destroyed the US. It remains to be seen whether the damage they have caused can be reversed before the population is significantly thinned by the host of obesity-related health issues. Already, health professionals are predicting that the current generation will have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

LBJ said...

I definitely think that increasing shorter trips on bikes is a great way to address these issues. For people who live a long way from work, a folding bike might be a good way to go - it means they can still drive if they have to, but they can get the exercise in in the last 3 or 5 or whatever miles. It's a good way to bike commute, even if you have too far to ride on the bike alone.

Carol Sovey said...


I am trying to get the Marion County Comissioners to reconsider the toll for bikes on the Wheatland Ferry. I have wrote emails and called them. I live by the ferry and many families use the bike path in Willamette Bottom State Park directly across the ferry. They are trying to do the right thing. It keeps the rural families of this area off the dangerous rural highways. It is crazy, bikes do not take up any car revenue. You just move to the side. Pedestrians are not charged. So do you think you could get this message out to people who care, have them call and email Marion County Commisioners. Sam Brentano decided this in a short meeting, no public input nothing! What a dinosaur!