A paper in this month’s British Medical Journal and reported on the BBC website suggest that those commuting to work by cycling or walking are significantly more healthy than those who commute by public transport or by car. The report suggests that it is much easier to build commuting by walking or cycle into our lives as a form of exercise than for example going down the gym.
The statistics from the study suggest that you reduce your risk of dying by 41%, the incidence of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46%. Bath has a particularly problem with people using their cars to travel short distances (36,000 car movements per day within Bath) which could be reduced if we and the council were more active in providing encouragement for people to switch their modes of transport. An added benefit of cycling and walking is that it reduces pollution, and the improvement in health should significantly reduce the costs of running the NHS.
An internal debate within our Transport Group is whether the greater benefit and therefore argument for a modal transport shift towards cycling and walking is for pollution reduction or improvements in health. Ideally we want both pollution to be reduced and health to be improved. This report does however highlight the health benefits of shifting commuters from cars onto public transport are much more limited than shifting them to a more active mode of transport.