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Wednesday, July 10, 2013    

Research report links transit investments, improved public health

Research by the University of British Columbia's Health and Community Design Lab recently found that investments in transit systems and other transportation modes can help improve public health.

As a result, such outcomes should be taken into consideration when communities make transportation planning decisions, according to the research report, which was funded by TransLink and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH).

Titled, "Integrating Health into Transportation Planning in the Metro Vancouver Region," the report was prepared to update Transport 2040, the current regional transportation strategy, TransLink officials said in a press release.

"Taking transit encourages commuters to walk or cycle to a station or a stop, helping them fulfill more than 25 percent of their daily required physical requirements," said TransLink Executive Vice President Robert Paddon.

Research shows a sedentary lifestyle is a major factor in many chronic diseases and conditions, such as obesity and heart disease. Active transportation choices and treatment through increased physical activity can help prevent certain chronic conditions, VCH officials said.

"This study documents how transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure will positively impact health, looking at both encouraging active transportation, such as walking, cycling and transit, and reducing air pollution and traffic collision risk," said Dr. Lawrence Frank, professor and director of the Health and Community Design lab at UBC, who led the research team that authored the report.

"TransLink's consideration of the health impact of transportation systems could help offset the rising costs of health care in the Vancouver area and promote an active lifestyle that will benefit all Canadians," Frank said.

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