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Active transport call for better health and economy

Tuesday July 5th, 2016

Towns and cities need to do more to encourage more people to walk, cycle and use public transport, public health campaigners say today.

Produced by the Faculty of Public Health (FPH), it calls for a major shift away from cars in favour of so-called active travel.

The report, titled Local Action To Mitigate The Health Impacts Of Cars, is published on the 60th anniversary of the Clean Air Act and provides practical advice to help local authorities design towns and cities that encourage active travel.

Professor John Middleton, president of the Faculty of Public Health, said: “Although we no longer have the ‘pea soupers’ that killed 12,000 people in the 1950s, 40,000 deaths each year in the UK are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution. It is also evident that it is disproportionately the poorest of our communities which are most exposed and vulnerable to air pollution.

“Local authorities are responsible for improving the health of their communities. One way they do so is to ensure that town and city centres are designed to reduce the health harms of cars to their residents.”

He said measures such as street design, traffic management and investing in public transport not only good for health – they are also good for the local economy because people who arrive at shops on foot spend the most over a week or a month.

“Everyone in public health, local authorities and across the health and social care sector needs to work together to reduce the health harms of driving,” he said.

“For the sake of our health now and generations to come, we need a change in culture so that walking or cycling becomes part of our daily routine, rather than spending hours sitting in cars.”

Professor Jonathan Grigg, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said “The challenge is to ensure that these local initiatives really do reduce personal exposure – especially for individuals who choose to use active travel.

"We must also not lose sight of the importance of national policy such as encouraging drivers of diesel cars and vans to switch to less polluting vehicles.”

Professor Stephen Holgate, Royal College of Physicians’ special adviser on air quality, added that the report adds to the bank of knowledge on the dangers of air pollution.

The report has been endorsed by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), Chartered Institute for Waste Management (CIWM) and Partnership for Active Travel, Transport and Health (PATTH).

Tags: Fitness | Traveller Health | UK News

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