A new report from the British Medical Association (BMA) sets out to show the positive effect of integrating health into transport policy, while proposing areas for action that prioritise health for all relevant transport sectors.
Published in July 2012, the report, ‘Healthy transport = Healthy Lives’, explains that “as the UK transport environment has become increasingly complex, transport’s impact on health has become unnecessarily harmful – to the point where it is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality”.
The report is intended for transport, energy, sustainability and climate change policy makers with strategic or operational responsibility for public health and health promotion in the UK.
Identifying the car as the most significant change to travel in the UK in the last 60 years, the report considers the negative impacts it has had on health. These include: greater risk of crashes, with pedestrians and cyclists being particularly vulnerable; long-term exposure to air pollutants decreases life expectancy; increased community severance as a result of poor urban planning.
While recognising the importance of sustainable transport, including improved mental health, reduced risk of premature death, and prevention of chronic diseases, the report argues that there has been a lack of investment in walking and cycling infrastructure. It goes on to suggest that by combining active travel and public transport options, people can achieve their recommended daily physical activity levels.
The report calls on the Government to provide strong leadership to re-focus UK transport policy. It claims that the greatest health benefits would come from prioritising accessibility over mobility, reducing the demand and need to travel by car and making public transport the affordable, desirable option.
Click here to download the full report.