Thursday, January 10, 2008

Take To The Streets

DARLINGTON has become the first town in the country to sign up to a campaign to boost the health of the nation.

Darlington Partnership yesterday pledged to "Take to the Streets" with a revolutionary physical activity initiative led by sporting legend Brendan Foster.

Its board agreed unanimously to support the project, which aims to get two million people involved in regular exercise by 2012, with runners, walkers, dancers and cyclists covering 100 million miles for their health and charity.

Darlington will become a national case study, taking part in a host of mass participation events and be involved in a five- year scientific study to assess the impact of the project.

Lots more information at The Northern Echo: Darlington first to join national health improvement campaign and Nick Wallis announced this yesterday on his blog.

I hope this campaign is a success, however I worry when activity and exercise are linked to sport and to big, annual events, rather than simply to increasing day-to-day activity. I'm sure that we would see much bigger health benefits were cycling and walking to be a greater part of our everyday transportation, rather than increasing the perception that they are wholy separate parts of our lives.

I know that I'd be hopeless at training to ride something like the Hell O' The North or the Great milk Stout Ride, but by cycling to work and back every day I am fit enough to complete occasional big rides like these.

I'd rather see more people cycling in high heels than cycling in lycra.

1 comment:

An Inconvenient Truth said...

Just read the Echo article. Agree with your comments, Mike. This emphasis on "Special Events" type activity simply ducks the real issue - it is more difficult in our society to live an every-day healthy lifestyle than an unhealthy one. These events are trying to compensate for a badly structured society, rather than change that structure.

Cyclists know this more than anyone else. If it was easier and safer to cycle across Darlington than to drive a car across it, many more people would cycle. I suspect there´s going to be too much money in these kinds of compensatory activities for the like of Brendan Foster to support our argument, though.

Can I make one contructive suggestion that might please both camps? Why can´t Darlington Council build a "Cycle Ring" around the town, following the existing routes through West Park, Faverdale, the Skerne, McMullen Road, Eastbourne, but adding new links to the south of the town to create a complete circle. Then it could be used by both commuters and "get fit" types. The latter could even time their trips around the ring!