Which of the following is more likely to get you to drive slower down a street? Or to get the majority of car drivers on that street to slow down?
· A talk with a friend about the dangers of speeding to yourself and others.
· A newly posted sign announcing a lower speed limit.
· A stop sign placed in the middle of the block.
· A series of speed bumps along the road.
Each of these might have an impact. But changing the structure of the road is likely to have the greatest impact on the largest number of people over the longest period of time. And the opposite is also true: a long, smooth, straight-away down a wide road with few intersections or visual distraction invites speed – and most of us instinctively respond no matter what the posted limit. Similarly, the lack of safe sidewalks or bike paths makes us much more likely to use our cars for even short trips. Travel behavior is largely shaped by the transportation environment we inhabit.Read more
With GreenDot, Massachusetts has placed itself among the national leaders on climate-protecting, sustainable, healthy transportation. And the challenges MassDOT has to deal with as it moves from general policies to effective action under fiscal constraint will create a path that other state’s will need to follow.Read more
We all know that being physically activity is good for you — good for your weight, good for your overall health, good for your mood, and good as a way to get around. But recent research suggests that bicycling is particularly good — even better than other forms of physical activity. This is important because, other than public transportation — whose routes are limited and expansion is very expensive — cycling is the only real large-scale alternative to cars for short, every-day trips and commutes. It is also important because it means that we need to be prioritizing bike facilities in every transportation plan and road design.Read more
Or…How to Improve Our Quality of Life and Get Maximum Leverage from Limited Public Resources by Integrating Complementary Aspects of Policy & Programs in Transportation, Health, Development, Environment, Energy – and everything else!
I was once one of those people who joined in the American chorus of contempt about the inefficiency and incompetence of public programs. Until I began working in the private sector. I quickly learned that the dearth of really good managers, the culture of petty bickering and buck-passing, the incredible lack of inter-departmental coordination and inter-subsidiary synergy was just as common in business as it was in government – if not worse because it was hidden from public view behind the narrow window of bottom line results. So long as the ink was black, internal corporate operations could get away with utterly amazing amounts of wastefulness, nastiness, short-sightedness, and bungling – often because the competition was doing the same!Read more
Why don’t more people just leave their cars at home? Why do so many people eat such terrible food? I am frequently in conversations where someone asks these types of questions. Sometimes the speaker is just a snob, using the question to really announce their own sense of superiority. But sometimes it’s a sincere bewilderment. Why do people make choices that end up hurting not only themselves but our society in the long run? And how can we get them to change?
Few people are consciously self-destructive. The reason most Americans drive, just like the reason that so many Americans eat bad food, is because given the surrounding context it makes sense to do so. Our homes jobs, shopping centers, schools, and friends are often located far away from each other, extending across the metro region into the suburbs. Public transportation doesn’t typically connect scattered starting points with equally scattered destinations – assuming that’s its available at all. Cars are often a necessity.Read more
Massachusetts’ new Transportation Reform Act mandates that the Department of Transportation collaborate with Health & Human Services, Environment & Energy, and others to create a Healthy Transportation Compact. The law also requires that the state devise a way of conducting a Health Impact Assessment of new transportation projects. But what does it mean to have a transportation system that is healthy for the environment, for our climate, for the economy, for our communities and families, for the physical and mental wellbeing of those who are moving around and those who are being passed by?
The first thing that assessing “healthy” requires is that we look at transportation as a system rather than as separate modes or separate networks (rail, trolley, bus, cars, trucks, bikes, planes, boats, and feet). Massachusetts’ creation of a Department of Transportation that brings together many of the previously separate travel agencies (MBTA, Turnpike, Mass Highway, Airports) is a good first step, but true systemic thinking will require much more.Read more
American medicine is only peripherally about health; it is primarily about treating disease. It is a sickness treatment system. Even so-called preventive medicine is really about screening and early treatment. What we need is pre-disease prevention: ways to create a lived environment that directly and through its impact on behavior significantly increases wellbeing and reduces the risk of getting sick in the first place. This is where Transportation comes in.
Public Health has traditionally focused on wellness, championing societal measures that that improve living conditions for large populations, or make it easier for individuals to make healthy choices within their everyday life. Clean water, effective sewerage, tobacco taxes and anti-smoking campaigns, eliminating trans fats and other food toxins, requiring seat belts, reducing neighborhood and domestic violence, gun control, vaccination campaigns – these can all be considered public health measures that work by improving the environment, providing services, or shaping the market.Read more
“’Sometimes we have to use cars, but that doesn’t mean they have to dominate our lives. Instead it should be dominated by human interactions…the level of car us in New York City is so inconsistent with what we want out of our city,’ whether in terms of health, quality of public life, or air quality.”
Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives
in Pedaling Revolution, by Jeff MapesRead more
“Getting there should be half the fun!” I love this slogan: it acknowledges that travel involves the full spectrum of human life rather than the simple relocation of objects. Even more, it implies that the other half of the fun happens “there” – a place – with the suggestion that transportation is as much about enhancing the quality of locations as about motion between them.Read more
Transportation & Health
• Only 46% of U.S. adults engage in recommended levels of physical activity associated with health benefits — 30 minutes of “moderate intensity” 5 times a week or 20 minutes of vigorous effort 3 times a week; over 1/2 of the leisure time of the avg. American is spent watching TV; every hour spent daily in a car increases body fat 6%; heart attack risk triples for people who’ve spent the past hour in their car. 66% of adults are overweight or obese.
• Almost 33% of high-school-age teenagers do not meet recommended levels of physical activity. 16% of children and adolescents are overweight and 34% are at risk of overweight.
• Change in diet without increased physical activity is unlikely to result in lasting weight loss.
• Diseases Linked to Lack of Physical Activity or Overweight: 30-50% increase in coronary heart disease, 30% increase in hypertension, 20-50% increase in strokes, 30-40% increase in colon cancer, 20-30% increase in breast cancer, significantly higher risk of type 2 diabetes, possible increased risk of onset of Alzheimer’s and symptoms of Parkinson’s, probably risk in men of erectile dysfunction.
• Half to 2/3rds of US children live in areas that violate EPA air quality standards for car-pollution-caused ozoneRead more