The Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA), Mr Harold Scruby, today thanked the Australian Government for supporting Walk to Work Day 2003 (WTWD).
Mr Scruby said: “We are truly indebted to the Australian Government and in particular, the Department of Health and Ageing, for their support and funding and for allowing Walk to Work Day to become a truly national event. This is the sixth year we have held WTWD, but until now we have lacked the required funds and resources to allow us to properly co-ordinate and promote the event nationally.
“The aims of WTWD are:
- To promote walking as a healthy activity and an important transport mode
- To reduce the reliance on the private motor vehicle
- To promote and improve the use of public transport
- To improve air quality by reducing unnecessary vehicle emissions
“We are also extremely grateful to the Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard, who, at our request, gave his valuable time to appear in this year’s TV, radio, press and poster advertisements. No-one doubts the Prime Minister’s commitment to walking every day. But of equal significance is the fact that the Prime Minister has one of the busiest jobs in Australia, yet he always manages to “MAKE TIME” to “WALK EVERY DAY”. This has become our theme this year, particularly as many Australians who do not participate in regular physical activity, frequently use the excuse that they do not have time.
“Additionally, the PCA wishes to extend its sincere thanks to Senator the Hon Kay Patterson, Minister for Health and Ageing and her staff and department, who have been so supportive and enthusiastic about this event.
Mr Scruby added: “We also have the support of all the State and Territory Governments and written testimonials from each of the State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers and from the National Heart Foundation of Australia and The Cancer Council Australia.
“With almost nine million Australian adults being overweight and obesity costing the national health system between $680 million and $1.2 billion per annum, WTWD is a great way to help reverse these staggering trends and promote the fact that for most Australians, walking is the best form of physical activity. Through using the Prime Minister’s most commendable example, we hope to see a significant increase, not only in awareness, but in participation, resulting in as many Australians as possible, making time to walk at least 30 minutes a day – every day.” Mr Scruby said.
Harold Scruby - Chairman/CEO – Pedestrian Council of Australia
Tel: (02) 9968-4555 (0418) 110-011Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Internet: www.walk.com.au
Current transport practices result in trauma, pollution and physical inactivity. These can lead to early death.
Active transport improves community health
Healthy Transport, Healthy People shows that a sustainable city needs sustainable transport that encourages health-supporting, not health-damaging, travel behaviour.
Health, safety and transport are daily concerns for everyone, but few of us realise how closely they are connected. In the 1990s the World Health Organisation identified transport as one of the major determinants of health and health inequality in Western countries.
Our car culture damages our health
Increased car use has displaced active transport-walking, cycling and using public transport. Current transport planning and infrastructure foster habitual car use. Consequently, almost half the population is exposed to substantial health risk from physical inactivity.
Physical activity reduces the risk of fatal disease
Our travel habits help determine our health. Forty per cent of urban NSW residents are not physically active at levels recommended for good health; 41 per cent are overweight or obese.
Physical activity almost halves the risk of cardiovascular disease and also reduces the risk of diabetes, osteoporosis and colon cancer as well as alleviating anxiety and depression.
The most effective, and enduring way of increasing our physical activity is by using ‘active transport’ rather than driving.
Road trauma increases as we age
Australia's rate of road trauma is typical of western, car-dependent societies. However, current travel trends are not sustainable, and, if they continue, will place the elderly at increased risk of road trauma. Public and active transport infrastructure is required as a safer, healthier alternative for the over 60s of the future who are predicted to have a 143 per cent higher rate of crash involvement.
Urban pollution damages health
All the urban air pollutants that have an impact on health arise from combustion of fossil and petrochemical fuels, predominantly used by motor vehicles.
More than a third of the greenhouse gas emissions from a typical Australian household are from transport - the opportunities exist for most people to reduce their motor vehicle-related use.
Promote sustainable and healthy transport
The community needs to be convinced of the personal health benefits of incorporating active transport into their lifestyles. The health and transport sectors need to work together to develop complementary strategies to promote sustainable and healthy transport. Businesses whose activities and profitability are determined by the health of their workers will benefit through active involvement in sustainable transport initiatives.
The policies and goals for urban and transport development should reflect the policies and goals of both sustainable environmental planning and the maintenance of healthy communities.
Adopt active transport and live better and longer
More effective policies and actions are needed to promote `active transport' and reduce car use:
MAKE ACTIVE TRANSPORT MORE ATTRACTIVE
RUN HIGH PROFILE DEMONSTRATION PROGRAMS
- Fund infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists based on both current use and desired use;
- Reform subsidies for car use and parking;
- Develop more walkways, pedestrian refuges, cycleways and car-free zones;
- Promote ‘active transport' at workplaces, schools and community centres;
- Invest in the public transport system.
Fund the running and evaluation of demonstration programs to:
PROMOTE ACTIVE TRANSPORT THROUGH THE HEALTH AND EDUCATION SECTORS
- encourage the use of active transport;
- improve road management for area-wide safety, incorporating the needs of pedestrians and cyclists;
- enable practitioners to undertake audits for cycling and walking routes.
The road is there to share
- The medical profession can prescribe walking and cycling as part of a healthy lifestyle or as treatment in cardiac programs;
- Information on public transport routes and timetables can be displayed in patient waiting rooms;
- School curriculums can link transport with lifestyle and health subjects;
- ‘Walk to school’ can be part of school environmental management programs.
To achieve behavioural change road authorities need to develop an awareness among the media, trip generators, and the community of the problems of single-occupancy car use for the transport system and encourage improved road user behaviour that respects all road users, such as bicyclists and pedestrians and supports bus-priority.
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