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Health Care Policy and Law
May 2017

Improving Public Health by Making Cities Friendly to Walking and Biking: Safer, More Active Transportation Starts With the Street

Author Affiliations
  • 1Bloomberg Associates, New York, New York
JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(5):613-614. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.0343

Our nation’s most unheralded public health crisis isn’t an exotic virus, or a malady transmitted from bugs nestled in our walls or mattresses, and there aren’t any viral ice-bucket challenges to eliminate it. The way that our cities are designed is killing us, right down to the very streets that we walk, drive, work, and live on.

Although the medical community remains rightly focused on preventing and treating diseases, the life-and-death effects of poorly designed streets and cities remain largely ignored—yet they are largely preventable. In 2015, 2.4 million people were injured in crashes on American roads, in addition to the 35 092 people killed outright in traffic-related incidents, a 7.2% increase from the previous year.1 The number of deaths is the equivalent of a jetliner crashing every few days throughout the year. Globally, 1.25 million die every year in traffic crashes.2 Traffic death is the leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 29 years, and on track to kill more people than HIV/AIDS.3

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