Putting health at the heart of transport planning

Published on Thursday, 12 July 2012 11:28
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

Politicians and policy-makers are being urged to put health at the heart of transport planning in a BMA report, Healthy transport = Healthy lives, published today.

The report brings together the latest evidence on the impact of transport policy on health. Its aim is to demonstrate to policy makers that integrating health into transport planning will have long-term health benefits for society.

Healthy transport = Healthy livesis an update on the BMA's 1997 publication Road Transport and Health. It highlights that while there has been little change to transport policy since the 1997 report, the detrimental impacts on health continue.

Traffic in the last 60 years has steadily increased, and while car use has brought many social and economic benefits, it has also had negative impacts on health. These include the increased risk of road traffic accidents and greater exposure to air and noise pollution. The increased use of car use has also had the unintended result of far fewer people in the UK walking and cycling.

The health benefits of active forms of travel, such as walking and cycling, are well established. Yet the economy, rather than the health of the nation, is often prioritised when transport policies are developed, says the report.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Director of BMA Professional Activities, said:

"Economic considerations have been prioritised over health in transport and urban planning in the last two decades and this has led to increased car use and often expensive and inefficient public transport. We need to make it easier for people to use public transport not harder."

"The report urges the government to introduce transport policies in the UK that will encourage behavioural change so that people use their car less, where possible."

Healthy transport = Healthy lives puts forward an action plan to re-focus transport policy in the UK. Full details are on page 69 of the report and include seeking to create safe routes to school so that children and parents can walk and cycle and developing schemes to reduce congestion on the roads.

Source: ©BMA

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