Cycling
February 15, 2016

SFU City Program Lecture: Were your parents always right?

“Eat healthy food. Don’t talk to strangers. Always wear your bike helmet.” Were your parents always right? Exploring the intersection of health and city-building

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February 24
7 pm
Room 1420, SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings Street
Admission: Free, but reservations are required.Reserve

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Strapping on a helmet for a bike ride won’t do you much good if your route is dangerous. Dietary advice can’t be followed if healthy food choices are unobtainable due to cost, scarcity or both. The perfect neighbourhood may prove to be unhealthy if it doesn’t support social interactions.
Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place is pleased to announce the second engagement of our speaker series. The series is intended to showcase local talent and research in anticipation of our September 12-15 conference – “Moving Toward a Healthier World.”
Professor Kay Teschke, UBC, will discuss her research findings on the determinants of cycling safety such as infrastructure, helmet usage, demographics and mode share. Keltie Craig will discuss Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy.

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See website for complete details and sponsors

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The kind words from guest editor Michael Mortensen below motivated me to express my own reason for gratitude at year end.
First, an update.  I’ve been in Vancouver General (what a great institution!) for a month now to deal with cancer of the appendix – a very, very rare and non-invasive form of the disease.
Prospect for recovery: full.
But the surgery is most invasive – 12 hours of it, the toughest thing I’ve ever had to deal with.
Here’s the thing: even in my 60s I’m in good shape – a consequence of decades of walking and cycling, in addition to some sports, integrated into daily life- a lifestyle I pursue because in a city like this it is so easy and pleasurable to do so.
Decades ago Vancouver made active transportation a priority.  And committed the resources to build the infrastructure.  And took the risk, often across the political spectrum, to push through contentious projects.
Sure, weather, culture, topography and other factors help.  But many places could do this too, and haven’t made the same commitments.
As a result, we are one of the healthiest, fittest cities in the country, and hence the world.
And that translates directly to the bottom line of health-care costs, and to recovery response when interventions occur.
No, my years of activity did not spare me this cancer.  But I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for my body to cope now if I lived a sedentary lifestyle, counting on technology to substitute for a lifetime of inactivity.
This is not about preaching the merits of healthy choices.  We all know it, public health has overwhelming documented the benefits, and, anyway,  people don’t respond well to chastisement. They respond better to that which makes them feel good, when opportunities for activity are accessible for all, safe and practical.
From my ward I can see the North Shore mountains in brilliant display.  And I know many thousands are on the slopes, celebrating their bodies and the city they live in that offers such a magnificent playground.
That view alone is part of my healing process.  It entices me; I want to be out there with my friends, sharing the culture of this place. Keeping fit. Recovering.
And once again, posting on Price Tags – documenting, exploring, comparing, learning about cities that make this human experience more gratifying, and healthier through good design and the right policy choices.
And for that opportunity to share and interact with you, PT readers, I am deeply grateful.

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Ohrn joins the meme:

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You can build city infrastructure to allow an active life, and a workout as a part of getting around.  Here are pix of people heading past, to and from the Burrard and Cambie Bridges via the seawall and steps.

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On the other hand, at UBC’s Marketplace, some people have an alternative to steps, as they head on up to Gold’s Gym for a machine-based workout. Don’t want to arrive tired and sweaty, after all.

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As remarked, the weather was extraordinary – unparalleled in my experience of visiting the city since the 1970s.  Perfect warmth without humidity.  An exquisitely clear, cloudless sky.  The leaves just starting their turn.  And a fall light that added richness to every landscape, natural and built.

Gold leaf, of course, helps.

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This is what happens when an angular light gives depth and subtlety to a few very grand and well-placed trees

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The city is on the whole greener than you’d think from reputation and cliche – likely the consequence of several decades of planting, maintaining and not killing off through wear and tear enough street trees so that some can survive long enough to become grand.

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Found them!
Here are the stairs I went in search of: the flight leading down to the High Bridge, one of the city’s oldest pieces of infrastructure (an aquaduct from 1848) and newest (a pedestrian link from Manhattan to the Bronx, opened in 2015).

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More on that later.

But for the next few weeks, assorted images taken over five days in NYC during a blissful spell of mid-October weather.  (I never wore a sweater or coat the entire time, not even at night.  T-shirt weather in the mid ’20s C.)

The city never looked better.

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Here was my choice of a good example of urban design in Edmonton:

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Yes, stairs – just two of the flights among many that descend from the north bank of the South Saskatchewan River to the valley floor.  (And you can see the LRT crossing the river on the top image.)

This is the City as Workout, of course – fun for even those who don’t take the challenge of sprinting up the steps, since they can enjoy the best views in the region as they watch the athletic people who do.   The stairs also connect to trails and bike routes along the river, and to an expanding network in the city – even if there’s lots more to do.  The City has a plan to replace many of these wooden staircases with others than include more platforms and promenades.

It’s extraordinary how much Edmonton commits to improving the public realm in its parks and community centres.  Some of the new park pavilions and centres are amazing – and, yes, can put Vancouver to shame.  (Stay tuned for announcements of winners of the Edmonton Urban Design Awards in November.)

Now I’m off to search for similar examples in New York.  (It’s not just the High Line anymore.  There’s also this.)

Which means not much blogging for another week.  See you later.

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