Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-obesity project focuses on stairways, sidewalks

From left to right: Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly

From left to right: Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg express their displeasure with police oversight legislation being voted on by the City Council, during a press conference at One Police Plaza on Monday in Manhattan. (June 24, 2013) (Credit: Charles Eckert)

Add stairs to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's one-man mission to make New Yorkers healthier.

His latest plans -- following well-publicized efforts involving sugary drinks and cigarettes -- ask building owners to post signs urging people to use stairs and for architects to make them a more accessible part of new construction or renovation.

The proposal, if passed by the City Council, would require building owners to post the lime-green signs, which say "Burn Calories, Not Electricity."

A 2008-09 city study showed the signs increased the percentage of people using the stairs by about 54 percent.

The architecture proposal is an executive order signed by the mayor. It is voluntary. The order will have city agencies review the design of new construction and major renovation projects to see if enhanced stair design is included.

At a news conference Wednesday at the New School in Manhattan, Bloomberg showcased the University Center as an example of the "active design" concept. The building, which opens in the fall, includes staircases visible from the street through a glass exterior.

"How handsome these elements can be to a design," Bloomberg said.

Showcasing the building's staircase "promotes active walking through active design in new construction," said Joseph Gromek, the New School board chairman. He said the building's staircase also promotes socialization. At each landing, there is an open space for people to gather.

"The benefits of active design can be profound: Just two minutes of stair climbing a day -- rather than an elevator -- can help prevent annual weight gain," said David Burney, commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction.

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