No Room for Pedestrians

After I sent an email to the police complaining about cars being parked on the pavement, I was rather surprised at the reply “there is no specific offences of parking a vehicle with two wheels on a footpath”. The Highway Code states that you MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and you should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. The Road Traffic Act 1988 includes legislation making it illegal to park vehicles on cycle tracks, which includes shared use pavements. There is also an offence specific to HGV drivers parking on a footpath mainly due to the weight of the vehicles causing damage. But I am sure that many local councils don’t believe that it is just heavy lorries costing them thousands, or even millions over the years, to repair paving stones.

In 2011 it was estimated that Leeds City Council spent almost £2 million every year to repair broken pavements. David Cowdrey, of Guide Dogs’ Head of Public Policy and Campaigns, said: “We were staggered to discover how much councils are having to spend each year on repairing pavements and paying compensation claims, some of which is down to inconsiderate parking. Parking on pavements also creates an obstacle for pedestrians trying to use the pavements, making it difficult for mothers with pushchairs, wheelchair users and other people to use the pavement safely. At worst, pavements obstructed with poorly parked cars can stop visually impaired people from being able to leave their homes or get to the local shops.” I am sure that the police are aware that it is illegal to drive a vehicle on the pavement, but once they have got there, it seems that the police in Leeds just do not care.



Increasing train fares

Although times are difficult, with almost zero wage increases, I can understand why people complain about rising prices. And the 6.2% price rise on the railways is more than inflation. But the trains are still good value, as can be seen by how popular they are. I don’t travel by trains that much, but when I have, the fare has been cheaper than travelling by bus or car. Taking the train costs between 10-30p per mile, which compares favourably with the bus and the car. The only time that cars win out, is when the car is not used by just one person. But since many car journeys are short and have just one occupant, the train often works out better option if the destination of the journey is served by the railways.

Horizon – The health benefits of fasting

Although many people seem to consider programs like Horizon boring and switch over and watch something more entertaining, the episode on BBC2 Mon 06 Aug, was really very interesting and would be beneficial for all our over weight and unhealthy citizens to watch. It showed the host Dr Michael Mosley looking to the connection between Diet and Health. Dr Mosley talked to the 101 year old Marathon runner who said “In poor countries people die of starvation, in rich countries they die of overeating.” Research has shown that in the 1930s depression in the United States the mortality rate decreased and life expectancy surprisingly increased.

The programs main point was that, being hungry is good for you. The program delved into the health benefits of three different diets, but the one that I found most appealing was the 5/2 diet (the one Dr Mosley is still doing). Fasting (women 400-500 kcal and men 500-600 kcal) for 2 days and eating normally the other 5. Preliminary trials with overweight subjects are showing promising results including weight loss, lower levels of bad cholesterol and fats in their blood, and decreased blood pressure. Dr Moseley paid a visit to Dr Mark Mattsen from the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore, USA. He has conducted animal experiments on intermittent fasting and has found that it postpones the development of Alzheimer’s and senile dementia like diseases. He also met up with Professor Valter Longo at the University of Southern California. Prof Longo was doing experiments with mice; he said that if similar health benefits were applied to humans, they would live for the equivalent of 120 human years and not suffer from diabetes or cancer! The program can still be watched on the BBC iplayer, so watch it and take the challenge. I am currently doing a the 2/5 diet, consuming 600 calories on two week days and eating normally the other five.

Free swimming

Recently there was a report on parenting and its effect on childrens’ drinking habits, published by the left leaning think tank, DEMOS. They studied data based on about 15,000 children born in the UK in the last 40 years. The researchers at DEMOS found that the best approach was for parents to be warm and affectionate until the age of 10 and then combine this with more discipline. Then at ages 15 to 16 there should be more supervision. And it goes on …… activities for at-risk children are also important during school holidays when there can be more opportunities to engage in binge drinking, Demos says. I am sure any good parent could have come up with that advice, but how do we help parents to keep their children active in the school holidays? Perhaps the Westminster Parliament could follow the example of the Welsh Assembly Government, they fund free swimming in Wales, during the school holidays.

childhood obesity

A sedentary lifestyle plays a significant role childhood in obesity, and the staff at Morleys council run sports centre were on radio Aire last week saying just that. There’s nothing especially different about levels of child obesity in Leeds, apart from the fact that obesity levels in West Yorkshire are worse than most other areas of England. For years, we’ve had various health and anti-obesity initiatives run by different agencies. All the research shows there are more overweight children than 20 years ago, so everything that has been tried, has failed. Regular physical activity, done as a family, brings long-lasting benefits. So why is it that most sports centres have a policy that bars children under 14 years old from taking part in many of their exercise programmes?

Morleys brand new sports cetre more than doubled the size of its bodyline gym, but what about the children? What ever happened to having fun, whilst doing exercise? A few weeks ago, the small pool in Morleys sports centre turned away many small children with their parents due to staff shortages. Why do other Towns/Cities have fun water slides in their sports centres, Dewsbury and Wakefield to name just two, yet Leeds sports centres are just bland and boring? Many exercise classes have a minimum age limit of 14 years old. Kids younger than 14 love dance, but yet they are not able to participate in the new exercise/dance, the Zumba. Is this health and safety gone mad? Due to Government cuts, the free swimming for kids was axed, yet pensioners still get free bus travel and free TV licenses; what about our children?

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