Investment in smarter travel means better health for all

פורסם: 18 ביולי 2010, 2:07 על ידי: Sustainability Org   [ עודכן 24 בפבר׳ 2011, 0:04 ]

Commuters Castle Park BristolWith national debt high on the political agenda and the comprehensive spending review due in October isn't it time we began making wiser investment decisions?

 Our public space is dominated by roads full of cars, causing pollution and creating a physical environment that discourages walking and cycling. This, in turn, contributes to a variety of health conditions including obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, some cancers and mental health problems.

Our health budgets are burdened by the impact of obesity, with the economic implications weighing in at a substantial £49.9 billion by 2050. Promoting physical activity is now a public health priority. According to Department of Health figures, getting the nation more active could save every PCT an average of £5 million a year

Should public money be spent on the treatment of sedentary lifestyle diseases? Or should investment in creating safe walking and cycling conditions to provide routes to everyday destinations that are more conducive to a healthy lifestyle be a spending priority?

Huge cuts in public spending, rising congestion costs and soaring health bills from obesity and associated diseases will overwhelm government priorities unless action is taken.

Investing in enabling people to travel more often by foot, bike and public transport isn't just an incredibly cost-effective solution to transport challenges. It will also contribute enormously to government efforts to tackle spiralling health budgets.

According to government figures, car traffic has increased some 15% in the last ten years, with congestion estimated to cost some £10 billion per year in English urban areas. Meanwhile significant reductions in transport spending will place severe pressure on transport budgets.

Using government methodology to measure the economic benefit to health of cycling, Sustrans found that the total health benefit to cyclists that used the National Cycle Network in 2008 was worth £270 million.

The evidence is now undeniable that the costs of our current transport system are large and that smarter travel choices provide opportunities to tackle not only the huge challenge of ill-health, but also climate change, congestion, energy security and liveability.

The expected growth in major diseases, including obesity, coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes in the next few years, especially those linked to physical inactivity are likely to have a huge impact on the NHS.

As scrutiny on public spending is intensified shouldn't future investment focus on interventions that deliver high value for money and benefits across government? 

Sustrans is calling on UK governments to invest in doubling the number of journeys under five miles made by foot, bike and public transport to four out of five by 2020.

Source: Sustrans

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