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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Transportation and health: Part 1

This series of issues will tie together some of the current thinking on the interrelationship between transport and health.   Similar series on the interrelationship between health and the built environment (April 30 – May 7th 2012 Part 1) ,  Oil and Gas (Synthesis posting Dec 27 2013) , and Weather and health (Jan 24, 26, Feb 13 2012).

Every day billions of people move from home to school to work and to play.  It is part of our nomadic nature to move.  The average Canadian commutes 30 minutes in either direction from home to work/school and back.  That amounts to the equivalent of two weeks of each year of our lives omits trips for shopping, socializing, recreating and vacationing. 

Yet, the impact that changing transportation technologies have had on our health has received relatively little attention.   Sure enough there is a journal of Transport and Health that released its first issue in March 2014 Journal of Transport and Health , and the European office of the WHO recently released a monograph that is worth skimming for a more in-depth analysis Transport, Environment and Health

The five sections will look respectively at:
1.       Introduction
2.       Whither goes the car?
3.       Planning for active transportation
4.       Public transit
5.       Mass transit

With outcomes of interest related to equity geographically and economically, stimulating physical activity, reducing air pollution, mitigating climate changing, noise, mental wellbeing, social support,and  injuries.

As the definitive monograph on all potential impacts of transportation on health has not yet been written, consider this as an opportunity to contribute by commenting and responding.  Of special interest are those health impacts not identified in the discussion. 

Sci-fi enthusiasts will appreciate that futuristic forms of transport such as teleportation, antigravity devices, warp speed, among other imaginative and currently implausible mechanisms, all seem to inherently be presented as wasteless, environmentally friendly and predominately without impacts on health.   Lacking such visionary guidance, where do our current modalities steer us?

 Follow over the next two weeks as we explore the linkages between transportation and health. 

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