Thursday, 15 May 2014
Transportation and Health - Your role in contributing to the public's health. Part 7
A fundamental operating principle of public health is to start conversations on relevant health topics. Oftentimes without clarity of solution. Such is the history of tobacco and obesity. Many times solutions run smack into a few individuals’ purse and wallets as an unanticipated cost in their search for wealth. The great success of public health being the consistency of vision to improve the public’s wellbeing and overcome short term speed bumps.
The thematic around transportation and health has few personal winners and requires massive shifts in public thinking. It may affect all of us in the wallet/purse in gas costs, vehicle costs as well as how our taxes are used to build and repair roads and subsidize public transit. The relative winners are those that use the roadways for product distribution and for single passenger vehicle use, and that is a lot of winners who carry votes with them. The winners in the discussion will be future generations.
While much has been made about defining relationships between transportation and health, in part to stimulate dialogue. Astute readers asked “so what?” What is it that you want me to do differently at work and in my personal life? Here for your consideration are DrPHealth’s recommendations for improving the public’s health through addressing transportation related issues:
1. Incorporate transportation and health issues in public health reviews of community planning documents
2. Advocate for improvements and support to public transit and stimulate local conversations on public health and transportation topics.
3. Support decisions that provide meaningful options to single occupant vehicles for transportation.
4. Advocate for separated lanes for active rolling wheel transports (bikes, blades, boards)
5. Support school programming that encourages walking buses and riding or other active transportation to and from school
6. Build on existing well established agendas (eg. air pollution reduction, obesity or motor vehicle safety) to promote public and active transportation
7. Support solutions that reduce the demand for individual travel such as telecommuting, teleconference and telemedicine, or have professionals commute to multiple clients in a single trip rather that multiple trips of those clients to see the professional.
8. Educate yourself further by following the conversation on transportation and health
9. Advocate for your own organizational policies to promote healthier travel
a. Telecommunications solutions for meetings
b. Itinerant services that reduce demands for client travel to services
c. Work hours that align with convenient public transit schedules
d. Car pooling policies that reward employee participants (eg. preferred parking)
e. Preferred parking/storage for those that use active transportation
f. Equitable Vehicle reimbursement policies that support alternate forms of transportation (eg mileage for bicycle use, bus fare reimbursement to events where parking might be provided
g. Rewards for creative transportation solutions.
h. Link the above incentives with disincentives (eg more realistic mileage pricing that lowers mileage reimbursement as distance increases)
In your personal life attempt to reduce your personal fossil fuel footprint through some of the following
1. Set a budget for vehicle-kilometers travelled, and develop a plan for a reduction of 10-25% to begin with.
2. Make the switch to car pooling, public transit or active transportation. Even if just for one day a week
3. Analyze how you could to manage the household on one less car
4. Explore options for long distance travel (vacation or work) that are more fuel efficient per traveller
5. Build active transportation into your daily routine
6. Be an advocate as an individual citizen within your neighbourhood and your local community for active and public transit.
As this is a forum to stimulate discussion, your ideas are welcomed. Please leave a comment or write to firstname.lastname@example.org . The list can be updated with more great ideas.