Sunday, June 19, 2011

Meeting Richard Jackson

Dick Jackson has been called a Public Health Advocate. He is the Chair of the Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA School for Public Health. His latest project: To teach UCLA to become a bicycle friendly campus.

Jackson has introduced the term Land Use into the public health discourse. His career includes a directorship at the Centers for Disease Control and serving as the highest State Health Officer in California. He is the co-author of "Urban Sprawl and Public Health: Designing, Planning, and Building for Healthy Communities" (2004). Most recently has has collaborated on a major PBS series Designing Healthy Cities which will be broadcast soon. The Federal Transportation Bill is a Health Care Bill was the title of a recent contribution to LA Streetsblog.

When a public health expert joins the board of the American Institute of Architects, then big and important questions appear on the horizon. Jackson is part (and inspiration) of the remarkable public health funding opportunities which have come to bicycle advocacy recently (Place Grants, Renew Grants). Public health agencies have started to fund bicycle coordinator positions (Glendale, South Bay) and develop Complete Streets Guidelines. Now it is time for UCLA to receive the good news.

Jackson means business. He proposed an F grade for UCLA in terms of bike friendliness, and without hesitation he asked the jugular question: How much money are they spending this year to improve the lot of cyclists? One answer he found on page 62 of the Bicycle Master Plan from 2006:  The document envisions an annual budget of approx 100.000 for bike programs. Jackson likes to quote their bike budget in CSSCE (Car Storage Space Construction Equivalents): Less then 2. (1 CSSCE = $50.000) Which includes those give-away aluminium water bottles. For a campus with 22.000 car parking spaces, that does tell a story. The story of a campus in Southern California where active transportation is not a priority. Not yet.

But there is hope. There is now a new generation of administrators who get it. The Public Health Departments get it, and the schools for public health get it too. They have a clear understanding of the health costs of motorized transportation, and how land use has to be addressed (SB 375).

UCLA Bicycle Academy welcomes Dick Jackson to our effort to make this a stellar bicycle campus. The suspicion of transportation malpractice taints the image of UCLA. With his help and that of his colleagues from the UCLA Health System, we are poised . . . for a great ride!

No comments: