Progress in improving links between transport and health is being held back by a lack of national and local coordination, according to a new report.
The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation's (CIHT) How transport policy and procedure can contribute to the health and wellbeing agenda report, is based on a review of research, policy and practice by a team of industry practitioners.
Transport should take full account of the health benefits of walking
It found that there are opportunities to improve links between transport, health and wellbeing, but progress is being hampered by a lack of strategic integration nationally and joint working locally.
The findings including a number of ‘discussion points’ rather than recommendations, including: ‘Local authorities could assess the health and wellbeing impacts of local plans, for example ensuring that these benefits are identified in proposed transport policies.’
CIHT chief executive, Sue Percy, said: ‘Whether through problems of increasing obesity, addictions, mental health issues or an ageing population; better health policies, funding and support will be key to improving quality of life.
'Through this research we have highlighted the need to improve strategic integration nationally and collaboration locally if we are to improve the links between transport, health and wellbeing.'
She added: 'It is predicted that the cost to the NHS and society of obesity-related illness will reach £50bn by 2050. Reliable, fit for purpose transport infrastructure can positively impact on this significant cost by facilitating uptake of greater levels of active and sustainable travel.’
The report also argues that the health and wellbeing benefits of transport investment need to be measured in terms of both cost and non-monetary values to better influence funding decisions and that the local planning system should take more account of these issues in decision-making.
The CIHT called for the influence of transport choices on people’s mental health and wellbeing to be emphasised more in policy and practice and conceded that the transport sector is failing to take full account of the health and wellbeing benefits of walking.
A survey published this week by charity Sustrans found that today’s children spend less time playing outdoors and more time using technology than their parents did as youngsters, even though the parents grew up with Ataris, Amigas and Gameboys.
Meanwhile, Transport for London has announced London’s first Quietway route, a continuous sign-posted route aimed at walkers and cyclists linking Greenwich and Waterloo by backstreet roads. The scheme was developed in collaboration with local councils and Sustrans.