From the 28 April 2015 article at The Conversation
Traffic death rates are falling in OECD countries, but generally rising elsewhere as mass car ownership spreads to other countries. For this reason, the WHO forecast traffic fatalities moving up to the fifth leading cause of death globally by 2030.
Paradoxically, fatality rates (deaths per 100,000 people) are far higher in low-income countries, despite their low levels of vehicle ownership. The main reason? Pedestrian and cyclist deaths can be as high as two-thirds of those killed, compared with 16% in Australia.
Tens of millions are also injured each year on the world’s roads. Particularly in low-income countries, this can mean a double catastrophe: loss of earnings and high medical costs for the affected families.
Air pollution also results in millions of premature deaths, especially in Asian megacities, and the rapid rise in vehicular traffic is an important cause. Further, a recent Chinese studyhas found that children’s school performance was adversely affected by living in traffic-polluted areas.
What’s the alternative?
For some time in OECD countries—and even elsewhere, when we consider traffic casualties and air pollution health effects—the societal costs of extra mobility have been rising faster than the benefits obtained. We must now focus on accessibility —the ease with which people can reach various activities — rather than vehicular mobility.
When access replaces mobility, we can finally start designing our cities for humans rather than cars. We’ll need to design our cities and towns to encourage an attachment to place, rather than endlessly trying to be someplace else. Excess mobility can destroy this sense of place.
A featured article in the May-June 2012 issue of the TR News provides an overview of cycling and walking trends and policies in Western Europe and draws lessons for programs that might succeed in the United States. Highlights include improvements in the transportation infrastructure, with a focus on safety; traffic calming in residential neighborhoods; coordinating walking and cycling with public transport; compact, mixed-use development; and other importable, foundational features.
A new study from the European Centre for Environment & Human Health, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Exeter, has revealed that people living near the coast tend to have better health than those living inland. ..
..Previous research has shown that the coastal environment may not only offer better opportunities for its inhabitants to be active, but also provide significant benefits in terms ofstress reduction. Another recent study conducted by the Centre in collaboration with Natural England found that visits to the coast left people feeling calmer, more relaxed and more revitalised than visits to city parks or countryside. One reason those living in coastal communities may attain better physical health could be due to the stress relief offered by spending time near to the sea.
Lead author of the study, Dr Ben Wheeler said:
“We know that people usually have a good time when they go to the beach, but there is strikingly little evidence of how spending time at the coast can affect health and wellbeing. By analysing data for the whole population, our research suggests that there is a positive effect, although this type of study cannot prove cause and effect. We need to carry out more sophisticated studies to try to unravel the reasons that may explain the relationship we’re seeing. If the evidence is there, it might help to provide governments with the guidance necessary to wisely and sustainably use our valuable coasts to help improve the health of the whole UK population”.
Dr Mathew White said:
“While not everyone can live by the sea, some of the health promoting features of coastal environments could be transferable to other places. Any future initiatives will need to balance the potential benefits of coastal access against threats from extreme events, climate change impacts, and the unsustainable exploitation of coastal locations.” ..
- UK News: Living near sea ‘good for health’ (walesonline.co.uk)
- People ‘healthier’ beside the sea (bbc.co.uk)
- New research shows that coastal populations are healthier than those inland (eurekalert.org)
- Why it’s healthier to live at the coast than inland (blogs.independent.co.uk)
- Living near sea ‘good for health’ (standard.co.uk)
- Living near sea ‘good for health’ (express.co.uk)
- People Living Near the Sea May Be Healthier (livescience.com)
- Where You Live Can Impact Your Health – And Coastal Areas Are Better For You (businessinsider.com)
- Life’s a beach: Living near the coast is healthier than living inland, researchers say (dailymail.co.uk)
Better urban planning is essential to improve health of the 60 percent of the global population that will be living in cities by 2030
The proportion of the world’s population that lives in cities has been steadily rising, so that three in five of all people globally will live in a city by 2030. The University College London/LancetCommission on Healthy Cities explores the many issues other than health services that contribute to population health in a city environment.
The Commission has been prepared by lead author Professor Yvonne Rydin, UCL Bartlett School of Planning, and colleagues at UCL and worldwide. The authors address issues that apply globally and use specific examples from cities as diverse as London, Bogota, Accra, and Toronto to illustrate the issues.
Just as London’s first modern, large-scale, urban sewage treatment system resulted in a 15-year increase in life expectancy between the 1880s and the 1920s, so other large-scale planning initiatives can radically change the health outcomes of city-dwellers – especially for the poorest. In this report the authors recommend focussing on the delivery of a variety of urban projects that have a positive impact on health.
Examples from the report include community-led sanitation infrastructure programmes in the slums of Mumbai, India; action for urban greening to protect against heat stress in London summers; and transportation initiatives that encourage physical activity in Bogota, Colombia….
The Commission authors looked at cities as complex, interactive entities in which changes in one part of the system can have impacts on others. They use five case studies to illustrate important themes for healthy cities.
Each case study supports the argument for a new way of planning for urban health. Planners need to recognise that conditions of complexity make it difficult to capture all the necessary information about the links affecting urban health in one plan or strategy. Unintended consequences of policy action are likely to persist. Instead planners should be working with all urban health stakeholders, including local communities, particularly vulnerable communities.
Professor Rydin says: “There should be an emphasis on experimenting with and learning from diverse urban health projects. This can mean supporting communities in their own urban health projects, as with community latrines in Mumbai slums or urban food projects in London and Detroit.”
The Commission concludes with five recommendations:
- City governments should build political alliances for urban health.
- Governments need to identify the health inequalities in cities.
- Urban planners should include health concerns in their plans, regulations, and decisions.
- Policy makers need to recognise that cities are complex systems and urban health outcomes have multiple causes.
- Experimentation and learning through projects involving local communities is often the best way forward….
- How cities can become healthy places (bbc.co.uk)
- Urban parks offer breath of fresh air for improved health (cbc.ca)
- Public Health + Urban Planning (planforthepublic.com)
- Detroit plans to shrink by leaving half the city in the dark [Urban Planning] (io9.com)
- U.N. project looks to organize urban planning (dailystar.com.lb)
- Better urban planning essential to improve health of 60% of global population that will be living in cities by 2030 (medicalxpress.com)
- What is Urban Planning? (planforthepublic.com)
- The urban age: an interview with P.D. Smith (3ammagazine.com)
- How Urban Farming Can Transform Our Cities – And Our Agricultural System (ecowatch.org)
- Sprawling cities pressure environment, planning (reuters.com)
- Let immigrants come and Britain will boom (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- How Urban Farming Can Transform Our Cities – And Our Agricultural System (thinkprogress.org)
- Pacific Challenges: Urbanization Brings Change and Opportunity to Island Nations (newswatch.nationalgeographic.com)