A new study for the The American Public Transportation Association finds that people who live in communities with high-quality public transportation generally live longer, healthier lives:
People who live or work in communities with high quality public transportation tend to drive significantly less and rely more on alternative modes (walking, cycling and public transit) than they would in more automobile-oriented areas. This reduces traffic crashes and pollution emissions, increases physical fitness and mental health, and provides access to medical care and healthy food. These impacts are significant in magnitude compared with other planning objectives, but are often overlooked or undervalued in conventional transport planning.
The good news:
[M]any simple, affordable, and often enjoyable lifestyle habits can lead to healthier and happier lives: breath fresh air, avoid dangerous driving, maintain healthy weight, be physically active, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, maintain friendships, and avoid excessive stress.
The bad news:
Many people find it difficult to maintain healthy habits. As a result, the U.S. has relatively poor health outcomes compared with peer countries, and according to some projections average U.S. lifespans may actually decline in the future due to growing but avoidable health risks.
This analysis can help transport and health professionals better coordinate their efforts to create communities where people can live long and prosper…. When all impacts are considered, improving public transit can be one of the most cost effective ways to achieve public health objectives.
Interesting to consider, then, how transportation planning techniques like Hans Monderman’s — based on the observation that individuals’ behavior in traffic is more positively affected by other people and the built environment of the public space than it is by conventional traffic control devices and regulations — might take part in a predominantly public-transport culture.