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Blackman discusses the benefits of local councils taking responsibility for health.1 I see the most effective way to reduce the increase in type 2 diabetes is by encouraging exercise, and there is no better way than to encourage walking and cycling. I therefore sit with the two public health physicians on our council's children's health and obesity task force, which has asked for slower speeds across the city and cycling training.
But these and all other large scale, slow speed, or pro-cycling measures have been rejected by other committees in the council. The transportation department sees its role as preventing traffic jams and accidents and helping industry (and accident rates have dropped at the same time as cycling and walking rates have fallen). And government policies support this.
The planning department approves large hypermarkets with masses of car parking, and large entertainment complexes, which in practice cannot be reached by walking, while allowing many smaller green spaces in the city that are used for improvised sport to be developed into housing.
Our council leader has adopted government policy. Local and national leaders have to take public health and environmental issues a lot more seriously if councils are to act effectively.
Competing interests: None declared.