AVBP provides custom made walking route maps through its network of contractors. The map combats increased sedentary living and growing waistlines by encouraging people to get out and walk more. This “activity pharmacy”, as well as detailing walking routes in the area, lists exercise providers, places to visit and even cafés to entice people out. The initiative demonstrates one simple pragmatic approach to meeting the health, environmental and urban planning challenges of the liquid-fuelled transport society. Hopefully, inhabitants and planning departments will be in better shape and better prepared to meet the effects of rising fuel costs as oil becomes scarcer.
Most of Sweden, has been seeing warnings about the general health – and rising care costs- of its population for some time. Something like 60% of all illnesses can be attributed to life-style and the health service is worried that demand for health care will increase by 50% in the in the year 2020. Early in 2005 the Swedish National Food Administration and the Institute of Public Health drafted a report with a 79 point action plan calling on municipalities to produce action plans covering:
* Redesigning the local environment to encourage activity
* Changes in education to spread more knowledge about activity and nutrition habits
* Requiring the medical and health services to place more emphasis on nutrition and activity
* Increasing training in nutrition and physical activity
* Development of the health promoting workplace including certification
* Food sector changes including labelling and supply management
* More involvement from sports associations
Walking maps are a simple instrument to promote sustainable development. From an economic point of view, increasing exercise decreases the risk (and cost to society) of lifestyle diseases like heart problems and diabetes. Environmental impact of transport could be lessened by reducing the number of short car trips. We also want to promote the social aspects of walking – group walking with hiking poles and the benefits of shopping locally for example. Liquid fuel scarcity will require planners to enable more walking journeys. If it improves health and environment as well it will truly be a win-win situation for all.