Unhealthy cities raise sick people. While a city is always the key to city construction, administrators may ignore the people living there leading to the unfulfillment of citizen health requirements. I suggest that citizen health considerations should be integrated into city policies when officials are planning to introduce new ones. Only when people become healthy, the city will be healthy, too!
Let’s take cycling as an example: while streets are becoming wider and wider, cycleways are becoming narrower and narrower. In recent times, bicycle lanes have had to make way for motor vehicles as bicycles have become unwelcome even though they are friendly to the environment. However, in some cities, the situation is the complete opposite like in Copenhagen, Denmark where there is a 200 km long cycle track for 36,000 cyclists. Furthermore, several other European countries are being outfitted with separate electric bicycle lanes. China used to be a giant in the world of cycling. Regretfully, many cities there set out to remove cycle tracks to make way for urban modernization. Sadly, the tracks which remained became neglected remnants from yesteryear. The fact is that bicycles are not an outdated mode of transportation, but a good way to disperse traffic jams and free up time to exercise, especially for white-collar workers.
People around the world have witnessed China’s development since its economic revolution 39 years ago. At the beginning of it, the rate of urbanisation was less than 20%, while in 2015, it rose to 56.1%. However, administrators put the city as the key to city construction, not the people living there. In these concrete jungles, there are no green spaces or badly needed fitness centres. As a result of less exercise, the physical condition of citizens has declined dramatically.
City development should complement scaled expansion with quality-of-life improvements. Not only constructing “hard products” like motorways but also providing “soft services” for people living there. Doing so, we can achieve a balance between city construction and good health and well-being.
Let’s make an impact together to provide three different modes of transport for a healthy city. First, leave space for bicycle tracks; second, provide cars for disabled people and prams for babies to show that the municipality takes care of citizens in need; and, last but not least, sound environmental policies to showcase a city with good quality air bathed in glorious sunshine.
Written by Valentina Tu