Thursday, July 29, 2010

Breastfeeding: Why the health benefits aren't enough to increase rates.

It would be best for the health of our country if all women were given the tools and the environments that supported breastfeeding.

Notice how I framed that message?

This brief on messaging around breast feeding shows why advocates cannot just use the "it's healthier for the baby" argument.

Advocacy rests on framing, as I've argued before. We need to frame breast feeding with the Berkeley Media Studies formula:

Environmental Cue + Value + Policy= Desired Message

We need to focus on values. Health of the baby is one, but so are ingenuity, and equity. We need to focus on providing these types of environments to support the health of women and children.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Protect Bikers and Save the World @lacbc @laist

A real battle is going on at the World's Oldest Bike race. Lance is out of contention. Contador and Schleck are going at it on the mountains of France. There is still hope for American Levi Leipheimer. Team Radioshack is leading the team contest.

But a much bigger bicycle battle is going on in the streets of our cities. One of my best friends (and a great family doctor) was hit while riding in a bike lane last week. He's ok, but needed some surgery. One of my sister's friends was hit while riding in New York City a few months ago. Also injured. A renowned researcher and one of the Deans of my Medical School was hit a few years ago, and is recovering from partial paralysis. Now the Mayor of LA was hit by a taxi, while riding his bike.

Now I don't want to scare anyone. Biking's health benefits outweigh it's risks. I think more of us need to get out on our bikes. More biking can save the world. How? Here's my top 10:

10. More Biking= more activity= healthier people.
9. More biking= less vehicular traffic. Less pollution and global warming.
8. Biking gets people to interact as they travel. You can't talk to the person in the car next to you, but you can converse with a fellow biker.
7. Biking makes you happy. Ask my sister.
6. Imagine the boost to our economy if everyone went and bought a bike.
5. Fun activity for child-parent bonding.
4. You can bike to beautiful places and see nature.
3. It gives super cool legs.
2. You can wear cool bike clothes.
1. It is super fun.

We need to make our communities safer to biking. Here are some ways we can do this, courtesy of the Bike League:

1. Adopt a target level of bicycle use (e.g. percent of trips) and safety to be achieved within a specific timeframe, and improve data collection necessary to monitor progress.

2. Provide safe and convenient bicycle access to all parts of the community through a signed network of on- and off-street facilities, low-speed streets, and secure parking. Local cyclists should be involved in identifying maintenance needs and ongoing improvements.

3. Establish information programs to promote bicycling for all purposes, and to communicate the many benefits of bicycling to residents and businesses (e.g. with bicycle maps, public relations campaigns, neighborhood rides, a ride with the Mayor)

4. Make the City a model employer by encouraging bicycle use among its employees (e.g. by providing parking, showers and lockers, and establishing a city bicycle fleet).

5. Ensure all city policies, plans, codes, and programs are updated and implemented to take advantage of every opportunity to create a more bicycle-friendly community. Staff in all departments should be offered training to better enable them to complete this task.

6. Educate all road users to share the road and interact safely. Road design and education programs should combine to increase the confidence of bicyclists.

7. Enforce traffic laws to improve the safety and comfort of all road users, with a particular focus on behaviors and attitudes that cause motor vehicle/bicycle crashes.

8. Develop special programs to encourage bicycle use in communities where significant segments of the population do not drive (e.g. through Safe Routes to Schools programs) and where short trips are most common.

9. Promote intermodal travel between public transport and bicycles, e.g. by putting bike racks on buses, improving parking at transit, and improving access to rail and public transport vehicles.

10. Establish a citywide, multi-disciplinary committee for nonmotorized mobility to submit to the Mayor/Council a regular evaluation and action plan for completing the items in this Charter.

Let's do it in LA and around the country! We should all aim to be like the #1 Bike friendly city in America, Davis, CA! Start us out by donating to Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition.