Thursday, February 1, 2018

More Healthy Cycling? Meet the Regents!

It is really easy

Tuesday February 6, 2018. The Regents Health Services Committee is meeting at UCLA. The time: 12:15 pm in the new Luskin Conference Center (agenda). This is a sub-committee of the UC Regents tasked to guide the UC Health system. During public comment, the Bicycle Academy will highlight the need for our state-wide health provider to address its automotive bias and to assert more clearly, in actions and in words, that cycling is good for you. We no longer can afford to ignore what public health experts are teaching us about the health benefits of active transportation. Please join us for this event, and share how you want this health system to improve its attitude towards active modes of transport. 

We will remind the Regents and the experts present that a bicycle friendly health system 

  1. offers significant financial benefits because for a self-insured employer a healthier workforce means real savings
  2. offers a low cost yet highly effective way to improve population health, well-being and disease prevention in the community
We will also remind the Regents and the experts 

  1. that in spite of wide-spread anxieties about bicycle use, obesity and its attendant co-morbidities are a far bigger public health hazard than cycling injuries
  2. that the lack of active living options is responsible for a large part of our fast growing health expenditure
  3. that guidance from the highest level of the organisation is required, comparable to the surgeon generals warning about smoking, 
  4. that the established division between transport planning and health policies effectively prevents accessing the multiple benefits (health, sustainability, community) of the medical device with two wheels
  5. that other health systems (NHS, Canada) have developed guidance that requires medical offices and hospitals to prioritize active modes, and to collaborate with local authorities to achieve a street network that can safely accommodate active modes
  6. that the League of American Bicyclists offers a program that can certify a Hospital as a Bicycle Friendly Business
  7. that there is a large unmet demand for CDC accredited Diabetes Prevention Programs with an emphasis on safe and confident cycling, or similar "Cycling on Prescription" programs
  8. that this innovative program is very much of the Golden State, that it should be spearheaded by an academic health center, and that it should be initiated right here, on the most healthy campus of the system (etc)

      We will ask the Regents to adopt motion to convene a working group of UC Health, UC Sustainability and UC Marketing and bicycle experts or advocacy groups, to design a UC branded bicycle rack that would serve to assert and advertise UC Health's support for active modes. Once a health system manages to put its logo on a bike rack, great things happen.

      Did it ever occur to you how weird it is that your medical office offers plenty of car parking, and nothing for bikes? Were you ever looking for a staircase in a medical office but only found the elevator? Did you ever feel your doctor should assert more firmly the health benefits of active transportation? Then the Regents committee should hear from you. 

      Our proposal has already received a good amount of support. Regent Lansing, the chair of the committee, has expressed interest. Dr Stobo, Executive Vice President of UC Health, expressed interest in the financial savings that a healthier workforce would mean for UC as a self-insured employer. He did not object to the proposal to share this with the regents and the experts. Even the good folks from AARP, who have shown great leadership in healthy transport issues, expressed support. This committee is a sympathetic and powerful forum. Because we are looking for an explicit medical acknowledgement of the benefits of active modes, the issue exceeds the level of facilities management and requires an rarely seen level of collaboration between health policy and transport planning at the highest level. We hope that the Regents can establish some guidance for the entire UC Health system to recognize the bicycle as a cheap and effective medical device. A medical office without bicycle parking really does send the wrong message. And a location webpage with advertises valet parking for cars, but is quiet about walking, cycling and transit routes, should not be difficult to remedy, once the regents have given the necessary guidance. 

      We hope to see you on Tuesday. A few more talking points are here.

      Update: Public comment has been recorded and is available here

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