different messages for people who are interested in different things, which implies the existence of different metrics. For instance, when The City Project began to work on equal access to parks and recreation, it emphasized a child’s right to play and have fun. However, advocating for fun did not have enough traction among community organizers and government officials. Only through a focus on the health implications of not having places to play did a lack of parks become a first-order priority among these groups.
Corless said transportation safety is carefully measured and compared. The problem is that the best way to reduce pedestrian fatalities is to stop people from walking. More broad-based measures are needed, whether miles traveled on foot or just general physical activity. As an example, a smart phone application could measure how much people walk or bike each day. “Let’s do a pilot test, if it’s not already being done,” he suggested, “and figure [this measure] out community by community, and then of course across age, income, and race.”
In response to a question about how to encourage children to walk or bike to school, Higgins commented that the more physical activities are integrated into daily life, the better off people will be. Many interesting projects are under way, such as making sure that schools and parks are located close together and are used as a unit, or linking schools and parks with trails so that there is a way to walk to any school or park in a community. The one caution, warned Corless, is that a balance must be achieved between walkable schools and school choice for students’ educational attainment.
Finally, Kumanyika observed that all of the members of the first panel, on food and agriculture, had common objectives centered on fixing the food system. But the organizations represented by the physical activity and built environment panel had somewhat different objectives. When the goals of public health are in opposition to the usual way of doing business, what must public health do to be a good partner?
Corless emphasized that the public health community has a great deal to offer the transportation community. Having more people on well-designed streets can improve safety in multiple ways, such as by reducing both pedestrian accidents and crime. Corless said that in his experience, public health officials have greater credibility than politicians or developers in marshaling public support for transportation projects.
García also responded by pointing to the increasing recognition that human health does not depend on personal choice and genetics. Rather, it depends on social determinants, including transportation; land use; access to food; and economics, encompassing income and poverty. Corless suggested that the common theme for the members of both panels is that attention to the social determinants of health can drive progress.