A new tool just came across my desk and although I haven’t yet spent nearly enough time with it to weigh in just how useful it is, it has a lot of promise and so I wanted to get it out to readers in case any of you are interested. It’s from the US Department of Transportation and the Centers for Disease Control and it’s the first tool I’m aware of that compiles data tying transportation choice to healthy outcomes.
The Transportation and Health Tool as it is called allows users to extract data on everything from seat belt usage to drunk driving, but it also looks at things like mode share for bicycling and pedestrians. It even ties local deployment of federal funds used for bicycle infrastructure into the mix and scores different places based on how transportation choice contributes to overall levels of health.
The tool makes it possible for users to compare data at the state, MSA and urban area level. All 50 states are covered. I’ve only had an opportunity to scratch the surface but there’s some pretty interesting data here.
As a Bike Fiver, you already know that there is a direct correlation between cycling and your health. It appears that your government knows as well. Tools like this make it much more difficult for the general public to ignore, and so I think this is a very good thing.
How this data will be used remains to be seen. It’s not hard to imagine, though, that in an era of nationalized health care and skyrocketing health insurance premiums there will come a day in the not too distant future where people who utilize active transportation to get from here to there will be rewarded with lower health insurance premiums or in some other way.
If so, it is merely an added benefit to living an active lifestyle, one where a legacy of highways, sprawl and road rage is replaced with the beauty and healthy self-sufficiency of internal combustion powered by the engine within.