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Pedaling Away from the Health Care Crisis

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page, Health Issues page, and our Organic Transitions page.

In the United States, we have the most expensive health care system in the world.

We collectively invest more than 15 percent of our GDP-that's around $2 trillion, or $5,700 per person-into health care every year.

The tragedy of these enormous numbers is that they fail to stem the tide of our increasing ill health. "Most of the money we're spending on health care is going to treat preventable chronic diseases," Michael Pollan told Grist in 2009. Our poor diet, he added, is responsible for most of those illnesses.

But it's not just about what we eat. The other part of that equation is our national and increasingly desperate need for physical activity. We need to rethink our transportation system and built environment on the same scale as Pollan and others have reconsidered our agricultural system.

It has become obvious that we can't afford to keep doing things the same old autocentric way.

For a fraction of the cost of the world's most expensive health care system, we could all enjoy the world's best bicycling and walking infrastructure-and with it much, much better health than we enjoy now.

Even minor investments in quality bicycle and walking transportation infrastructure, particularly at bottlenecks like bridges, leads directly to increased physical activity for people who live nearby.

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