Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Real Reason Why Candidates Should Address Cycling This Valentine's Day

This community should ask the candidates to discuss an issue that may help America save a lot of money and be healthier.  Obviously, I am talking about cycling.

If you have ever watched network news in America, you will notice that it features wall-to-wall drug ads, many for treatment of #type2diabetes.  I counted more than 6 drug ads in a half hour this week.

If an alien from another galaxy landed on earth and sought to judge us from these ads he would think everyone here was hypertensive, unable to perform sexually, and diabetic.  He would definitely radio the mother ship and tell them that we could easily be defeated given our considerable infirmities.

The ads run during network news feature songs from the 1960s and 70s for two reasons: (1) the age group being targeted; and (2) after 20 plus years the fees payable to BMI or ASCAP for using the songs are smaller as a matter of law.

Who watches network news anymore?  A lot of older people who receive Medicare, which pays for these drugs, and a lot of poor people who cannot afford cable and who have Medicaid, which may also pay.  That is why the drug companies urge you to talk to your doctor and request their product.  Then the government pays.  Usually more than the negotiated amounts paid by private insurers.

Have you ever noticed that the people in these ads appear to be in mid-life, a little heavy, but happy?  Ads are written to suggest hope, not misery, hence the happy walking by diabetics.

The network news audience is the generation that lost any walking and cycling infrastructure, grew up in the 'burbs eating processed foods, and now finds itself in need of diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol drugs.  This is the generation that fell in love with the car, had their first sexual experience in the car, gained status because of the particular car they drove/drive, and told themselves that getting that hybrid was as good as a two-hour lenten confession.  (Not really.)  Why eat right or cook whole foods when you can just take a drug?  But they were sold, and easily bought, a bill of goods.  What they ended up with was illness and obesity, much of which comes with age or genetics, but more of which comes from a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet.

I cannot say that the #drugcompanies are entirely venal either.  We have the best drug scientists in world.  Their work has alleviated suffering worldwide.  Whether they should be permitted to be publicly traded and have to answer to shareholders is another matter.

In any event, our national budget is largely defense and medical costs.  Check if you do not believe me.  It's only 600 pages or so.

We are not likely to scale back defense anytime soon.  (I would add that the military has had trouble with recruits being too obese and unhealthy to get through training.  Hmmm.)

But how do we cut costs and improve the quality of life for America's next generation?  We know more people are members of health clubs today than at any point in history.  But we are still fat and diabetic.  (Not me personally, but you get my point.)  We know that films like "Fed Up," and others have revealed how the amount of sugar that is concealed in low fat foods may be worsening the obesity epidemic.  We know that people can get off of diabetes and other drugs when they bicycle or walk to work.  They lose weight, exercise their hearts, and get better, especially when they can find safe lanes and paths.  They need fewer medicines.  That costs less.  For everyone.  The problem is, most people live where they cannot walk or cycle to work, or even take mass transit.  That should not be America.

So . . . Which candidate has said anything that could be taken as revealing an awareness of our health and fitness problem/budget healthcare cost problem?  Maybe that's for the general.  (Hahahahahahhaha.)  But when I say that candidates should state their position on bike lanes, I really mean they should talk about how they would make it easier for Americans to walk and cycle and regain our health.

Remember that moment in Vera Britain's "Testament of Youth," when the war was being lost in France, and she heard a sound, looked up, and saw the American regiment marching?  How hail and strong they looked?  Not the chunky folks trying to look positive as they search for something to supplement their insulin shots while "Everyday People," plays in the background.   Want to really make America great again?

I would like to see what happens to residents of Hoboken in a few years when they realize what they have done to themselves by voting for double parking over bike lanes.  Gear up the diabetes medicine ads.   By then it will be songs from the 1980s.  Maybe a little ditty by Boy George.


In the meantime, in #cyclingnews:

Businesses in London have overwhelmingly agreed to support the cycling super highway.  (And think of what they will save in healthcare costs and days lost from work.)  #cyclingsuperhighway

A cyclist in London is happy to see that bicycles will soon outnumber cars, but she misses the old days of solitude and danger.  I would ask her to get over it quickly and enjoy the companionship.

Just a reminder that the London Bike Show with this past week.  Check out the winners and losers.

There's a winter bike to work day.  Amazingly wonderful.  

Atlanta's new cycling czaress is hanging in there.  Here is wishing her great success.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are a libertarian, a Green, Dem, Rep, or Independent, expect me to raise the issue of cycling's incredible societal benefits, and let's definitely be smug.
Elisa P.


  1. Good stuff! The kind of message we need to send us out and about with a passion. Thank you.

    Doctor App