THE WARREN CENTRE FOR ADVANCED ENGINEERING

 

THE SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT IN SUSTAINABLE CITIES PROJECT

Healthy Transport, Healthy People


June 2002

 

Executive Summary

 

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


  • 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.

RUN HIGH PROFILE DEMONSTRATION PROGRAMS

Fund the running and evaluation of demonstration programs to:

  • 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.

PROMOTE ACTIVE TRANSPORT THROUGH THE HEALTH AND EDUCATION SECTORS

  • 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.

The road is there to share

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.

THE WARREN CENTRE FOR ADVANCED ENGINEERING

Engineering Building J13, Sydney University NSW 2006
Telephone: +61 2 9351 3752  Facsimile: +61 2 9351 2012
Internet Home Page: www.warren.usyd.edu.au
E-Mail: warrenc@eng.usyd.edu.au