We bicycle advocates have never liked the term “alternative” transportation. It intimates a second choice, an alternative to something we really, really want. Hooey! Feet, bikes, and transit have been our first choice. A car is a good choice … when it’s the last choice. So finally, there’s a new term — “active” transportation. The more positive and accurate name says, “We choose our feet, and we feel great.”
Don’t quote me, but I think the term “active transportation” started with the collaboration of public health researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC directs Americans to walk for exercise, but where to walk? US cities are designed for cars not people. (Don’t get me started on mall walking.)
So enlightened folks at the CDC saw the connection between our auto-oriented, unwalkable American cities and the declining health of our citizens. (Of course there’s junk food and video games and computers and TV, but if kids could play in the street again … ah, the subject of a future blog.) With the exciting partnership between public health and transportation professionals, we can get back on our feet. Public awareness is the first step. And changing the usage of a single word creates awareness.
So repeat after me! Active transportation is the new alternative.