July 18 2013
Patrice J. Lee
The Nanny State’s favorite mayor is at it again. This time New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is leading a campaign against elevators and escalators.
A new initiative announced this week by NYC officials encourages office workers to skip the elevator and escalator lines and go straight to the stairs to get their exercise in.
But hizzoner isn't just offering a gentle hint that walking up the stairs might be good for you. That's not his way.
No, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a bill that would require all new buildings and buildings undergoing major renovation to provide occupants with access to at least one stairwell and post signs near elevators pointing to where nearby stairs are located. Another bill aims to boost the visibility of stairwells by permitting devices that hold open doors which automatically close in case of an emergency. Let's hope the doors don't get confused! .
According to Bloomberg, who says he personally almost always uses the stairs, the proposed measures are in the best interest of workers:
“What we’ve got to do is just make it cool–if you will–or socially more the norm to exercise, and that’s what you see here. The whole idea is not to change what you have to do, but to give you the idea and the impetus to do something that is in your best interest.”
Think this is a ploy by intellectuals, who think they know better than you and I what we should do with our bodies, to force changes in our behavior? You’re right. From cigarettes, to trans fat which make food crispy and tasty, to big drinks that quench our thirsts Bloomberg has waged a campaign to erode consumption choices of New Yorkers. “I’m not here to tell you how to live,” he says, but the latest announcement is just one more bit of evidence that that he is here to tell us how to live.
Bloomberg joins a select cadre of intellectuals who inflate social problems to the level of alarm justifying the use of government intervention in the private decisions and actions of individuals, families, organizations and businesses. As the experts they claim to be looking after our collective interest and lull (or manhandle) us into compliance. They then push to create powerful and influential jobs inside and outside of government to advance their goals. Think that’s overstating what’s going on here? Think again.
A nonprofit organization called the Center for Active Design will be created to find ways to design healthier buildings, promote public transit and create more outdoor spaces for activities. This organization will have teeth and clout. Bloomberg announced an executive order requiring all agencies to use these strategies on new construction or major renovations. That’s a ready-made clientele list for the CAD. Of course this means new jobs and perhaps an emerging industry of experts to be tapped by the public and private sector. It’s not unlike the green jobs movement.
What’s missing from this story is the financial aspect of these new regulations. Adding a sign by elevators and escalators may not be too cost prohibitive until you consider all of the skyscrapers in the Big Apple. And will developers have to reassess how they design new building to be compliant even if it means driving up costs?
If nothing else this is a win-win for some lucky folks: sign makers.