How about nearby sports?

The other day I had one of those amazing mornings that only a golf course, a good friend and a sunrise can offer. 9 holes mean there is plenty of time for discussions of the kind that very seldom occurs inside the four walls of an office meeting room. My friend is involved in a bidding process for the so called ”förbifart Stockholm” which will create a smoother way to pass Stockholm in years to come. Of course he is not bidding for the whole project but I am going to stop short of even trying to explain what it is he does. Förbifart Stockholm is budgeted at just over 30 billion kronor (€3 billion) and I am sure nobody will be surprised if it turns out more expensive. Judging by the number of cars on the roads around Stockholm already I am sure most would consider this investment necessary, though expensive.

An interesting question that arises is why we are so fond of our cars. My friend tells me about a conversation they have had over coffee at his workplace. He, and his colleagues were all in agreement that the main reason to still own a car is that we need it to take our kids to sports. That raises an interesting hypothetical question about what would happen if 31 billion kronor were used to build sport facilities close to where people live, instead of on building a road?

As I sit down to prepare a presentation that I am giving at the International Physical Literacy Conference in Umeå I come to think about this. Through our project leader for ”Places for sport” I learn that all of us are much more likely to be physically active if there is a nearby facility that makes this possible. In addition I learn that there are norms that govern how many parking lots that need to be built when developing housing facilities for x number of people. But there are no norms that stipulate the number of sports facilities that should come with a new set of houses. Over a coming number of years the plan is for Stockholm to have 140 000 new apartments. Isn’t it time to say that equals y number of sports facilities? It sure would be interesting to find out how many cars that would keep off the streets!

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