Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My doctor tells me to drive!

I visited my long-time primary care doctor the other day for my Welcome to Medicare physical.  I arrived by bike, of course.  My doctor tells me my bike riding is keeping me healthy.  Then why do I say my doctor tells me to drive?

From the time when I made my appointment until I rode away on my bike, I received many messages from my doctor telling me that I should be driving.

1. On the web: I go to the Group Health website to find directions to the Capitol Hill Clinic and find this map:

The map shows the freeway and the arterial roads near the medical center, and it features big bold circles showing me where I can park a car. It offers no information of any use to me if I arrive by bike or by bus: it doesn't show bike routes, bus stops, sidewalks or crosswalks. 

Below the map are three paragraphs of detailed, turn-by-turn instructions for driving to the clinic from the freeways, and a sidebar details parking rates. There is no mention of biking or walking routes to the medical center, and no mention of bike parking, 

There's a link labeled "elsewhere on the Web" connecting to Metro Transit's Trip Planner, but you have to follow the link to discover the three bus routes that serve the medical center. 

Through this web page, my doctor tells me that driving is the best way to get to the clinic.  If I choose any other means of transportation, I'm on my own.

2. When I arrive at the clinic, I see big signs at each approach to the building telling me where to find car parking.  To find bike parking, I have to search the grounds (see my earlier post for more about bike parking).  I happen to know there's a bike parking area in the garage, but there's no sign to tell me where to find it.  The outside of the building tells me I should be driving.

3. When I'm ready to leave, I find bold signs inside the building pointing me to the parking garage.  If I had arrived by bus, I would not find any signs reminding me where to find the bus stop or telling me which buses serve the clinic.  If I look closely at one of the big facility maps on the wall, I can find a small icon indicating bike parking - but there's no icon for the bike parking inside the garage.  The inside of the building tells me I should be driving.

I'm using Group Health as an example, since that's where my doctor works. I suspect you'll find similar messages encouraging driving wherever you go for healthcare.

My doctor tells me I should stay active.  Your doctor probably wants you to stay active too. The websites our doctors use and the buildings where our doctors work should be reinforcing that message, not telling us we ought to drive.