It turns out the ban on sodas Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to impose a few months ago isn't going to be his last effort at encouraging healthier habits among New Yorkers. He's making at least one more run at getting New Yorkers to adapt healthy habits before he leaves office later this year; this time, asking them to skip the elevator and take the stairs.

Mayor Bloomberg introduced a new public health initiative on Wednesday that calls for new guidelines encouraging public and private buildings to make staircases more attractive and accessible to people who would normally take the elevator. He also introduced new legislation that, if approved, would make these guidelines requirements for new buildings and those undergoing major renovations, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"Since the invention of the elevator, stairs became relegated to purely [escape] during a fire," David Burney, head of the city's Department of Design and Construction, said. "So they're minimal in size, they're in the corner of buildings, often dark without windows. So what we'd like to see is the stair being brought back."

"The issue is not having access [to stairs]," Mayor Bloomberg added, "it's making it more attractive."

The proposed legislation would require new buildings and buildings under major renovations to make stairways visible, if needed, with the help of signs encouraging their use next to elevators. The city's health department has already reported success experimenting with such signs saying, "burn calories, not electricity."

Another part of the legislation would change the current fire code so that stairwell doors could be kept magnetically open at all times, and automatically lock in the case of a fire alarm. Many of them currently open from the stairwell-side but stay locked from the outside.

If these new regulations pass, the Bloomberg administration expects stairwells to become more visible, better lit, and more inviting.

The administration also announced the creation of the Center for Active Design, a non-profit organization created as a public-private partnership. In relation to this initiative, the center will promote changes to building and street designs in an effort to encourage physical activity. Among other things, it will also help underserved neighborhoods get better access to healthy foods.

"This isn't about going to the gym, this is about what you do in your daily routines," Mayor Bloomberg said.

The mayor framed the new guidelines as another way to fight obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other health-related problems. His tenure as mayor has brought about a slew of health-related initiatives and laws, including a smoking ban in bars, restaurants, and parks, mandating that certain restaurants show calorie counts on their menus, and the creation of the country's largest bike share program.

His most recent effort, however, was a ban on soda beverages over 16 ounces. It was met by an uproar of public disapproval as many New Yorkers felt the administration was overstepping their bounds and butting into their personal decisions. Although the New York City Board of Health approved the legislation, it was struck down by the State Supreme Court just before it was set to begin in March.

"I don't think it's government's job to ban people from doing things with a handful of exceptions," Mayor Bloomberg said. "But, generally, it's government's job to tell you the facts of what is bad for you and let you make your own decision."

Published by Medicaldaily.com