The California commute and its adverse implications for health status
Lancaster is also hoping to make its communities more pedestrian-friendly. Last month, the City Council revised its residential zoning ordinance to provide incentives for infill development and to require developers to include pedestrian and bicycle connections to nearby amenities.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said residents’ long commutes concern him, adding that he knows hundreds of families who endure debilitating treks to the office.
“The mother and father spend most of their productive hours on the freeway,” Parris said. “It’s just not a good way to live.”
Parris is right. It’s not only not a good way to live, research indicates the daily commute has adverse health implications. The Antelope Valley is located in California, an automobile-driven state noted for having some of the longest and most congested commutes in the United States, with the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley leading the nation in so-called “super commutes.”
The state recently formed a Let’s Get Healthy California task force made up of the Golden State’s top health experts. Inexplicably given that commuting is such a big part of Californians’ daily lives, the role of commuting and its adverse affect on health is not discussed anywhere in the task force’s final report. As Mayor Parris implies, if residents are spending all their daily hours working and commuting, once they get home they aren’t going to have time or energy to get the exercise they need for maintaining good health on the pedestrian and bike trails that his city envisions.
Ironically, while Silicon Valley companies produce some of the longest and worst commutes, they have also innovated much of today’s modern information and communications technology that allows those who perform knowledge and information work to get their work done from their communities. It’s absurd Californians would jeopardize their health to drive hours each day to use a computer and telephone in some distant centralized office. And it’s a major oversight this was not addressed by the Let’s Get Healthy California task force.