— Why are more kids coming down with rickets? Possibly because they aren’t getting enough sunlight. And why is that? Of course a helicoptering society plays its role. But so does atrocious city planning, as you’ll feel in your (possibly softening) bones when you read this fantastic essay by Rachel Cooke in The Guardian:
Rickets is on the rise, but let’s not consider it a Victorian throwback, more of a symptom of our airless lifestyle by Rachel Cooke
Do you ever feel like you are living in a dystopian novel by JG Ballard? I know that I do. Take last Monday, when I found myself at Marseille airport, the interview I’d been doing having finished too late for me to fly home. I’d had the foresight to book a room in a hotel that I would be able to reach by means of a handy 24-hour shuttle bus but on the night I was suddenly reluctant to take advantage of this particular “courtesy”. For one thing, I’d spied the hotel from the coach I’d caught from the city, and thought it could not be more than a five-minute stroll from the terminal. For another, it was a balmy evening. Daringly, I decided to walk.
What followed might have been funny if it hadn’t been so frustrating: an obstacle course for the mind as much as for the body. At first, I took the various hurdles in my stride. A busy car park. A series of mini-roundabouts. The forecourt of a petrol station. When motorists hooted at me, I tried to look nonchalant, swinging my bag jauntily, as if this was a route I took every day. When the hotel sign was in clear sight, my spirits soared, a weird sense of achievement rising inside me. I’d done it!
But my journey was not over yet. Ahead, the road was bordered only by a narrow verge. Could I struggle on, tightrope walker-style, one foot daintily in front of the other? I could not. One false step, and I’d be killed by the next whizzing Peugeot. Pretty soon, I was back at the mini-roundabouts – dusty by now, and in low spirits. Pretty soon after that, I was on the courtesy bus, listening to Mantovani.
It’s thanks to episodes like these – such stifling crises seem to occur ever more often in my daily life – that I didn’t feel remotely surprised by the news that rickets is on the rise in British children.
Read the rest here! And tell us: Is it actually even POSSIBLE for a person (including a young one) to get to the store or the school by foot in your town? And if not, is there some way to get this changed? Just in case, here’s the Safe Routes to School site. They are on the side of citizens who want to make sure there’s a walkable route to school. – L