Keeping the silent sports community informed and self propelled.
Like diet pill poppers only interested in seeing immediate results, Minnesota lawmakers seem unable to commit to programs that integrate exercise and lifestyle changes intended to lead state residents to better health over the long term.
Some Republican legislators are expressing doubt in the effectiveness of the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), a multi-pronged effort included in a 2008 bipartisan health care package it was hoped would lead to cutting future health care costs.
"I don't believe, and have not seen, any evidence that the money being spent has any measurable effect on anything," said Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, according to a worrisome news story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Hann added, "Is it the duty of the state government to provide bike racks to people?"
In its first two years, SHIP got $47 million to help local government start community gardens, promote healthier eating and physical activities in day-care facilities, install bike racks, improving nonmotorized trails and prohibit smoking in more places. Funding for the program was cut to $15 million over the next two years.
Advocates of the program argue that the program is changing the way Minnesotans think about their health. It's too soon, however, to know if SHIP will save $1.9 billion in health care costs as promised.
The Star Tribune story did not say whether Nice Ride Minnesota, a bike-sharing program in the Twin Cities and the largest in the country, contributed to a healthier population. The program's website reports the rentable bikes were taken on 200,000 trips in 2011.
The success of the bike sharing program was in part due to the expansion of bike stations in North Minneapolis and St. Paul last year. Similarly, the more modest bike sharing program B-Cycle started last year in Madison, Wisconsin, is adding stations and bikes, according to Tom Held's "Off The Couch" blog. B-Cycle reports that 6,500 dues-paying members rode nearly 39,600 miles in 2011, saving 2,844 gallons of gas and keeping 103,000 pounds of carbon monoxide out of the atmosphere.