Good intentions, says Staley, but recent reports suggest that transportation policy doesn't play as big a role in obesity as some might think.
"Something tells me that, while the US DOT's eagerness to tackle this issue by offering better options for Americans is certainly well-intentioned, transportation policy most likely affects obesity rates less than we in the urban planning world would like to think. Take, for example, this Gallup report from last year. Titled "Good Health Habits the Norm in Slimmest U.S. Metro Areas", the report lists our metro areas from slimmest to fattest. The metros with low rates of obesity are not necessarily powerhouses of innovative transportation policy. The top two, Fort Collins and Boulder, CO, are college towns that are both walkable and bikeable. No surprise there. Same goes for San Francisco and Denver, numbers 9th and 10th, respectively. But seeing Colorado Springs (4th), Reno (6th) and San Jose (8th) on the top ten thinnest cities is a bit surprising. When we think of transit access and walkability, I guarantee you those cities don't come to mind."