Studies back need for better transit: doctors

METRO VANCOUVER – Fraser Health’s top doctors are calling on the public to support the “Yes” vote in the upcoming plebiscite, citing two new reports highlighting the “overwhelming health benefits” of public transit.

The doctors say new data from a Fraser Health community survey shows active transportation has a positive influence on overall wellness and health.

“Our survey, which included 28,000 Metro Vancouver respondents, found that Metro residents who commute by transit, walking or biking are more likely to be physically active and less likely to be overweight or obese than those who commute by car,” said chief medical health officer Dr. Patricia Daly in a release.

“A ‘yes’ vote in the upcoming transit referendum is a vote to improve our health now and for decades to come.”

Interim chief medical health officer Dr. Victoria Lee said many chronic illnesses are preventable and our physical surroundings have a major impact on whether people develop those chronic problems.

“Given the rising rates of obesity in Canada and rise in associated diseases such as diabetes, these results indicate the potential for investments in active transportation to directly affect these health trends.”

Key findings of the 2013-14 survey, entitled My Health, My Community Transportation and Health report, include statistics showing 33 per cent of those people who do not commute by car have lower odds of being overweight or obese. Those odds increase to 48 per cent if biking or walking and improve by 22 per cent just by taking public transit.

However, Metro Vancouver residents who commute by transit have the longest commute times, highlighting the need for investment in better transportation infrastructure, the survey notes.

Transit use is highest among lower income households, visible minorities and recent immigrants.

Fraser Health says the results echo the findings of a new academic report entitled, Health Benefits of Transit Investment: Policy Brief, by UBC Professor Lawrence Frank.

Reviewing 30 studies on transit and health across North America and beyond, Frank found when transit improvements are made residents not only use the new infrastructure but walk more and are less likely to develop obesity and chronic diseases.

Key findings of that study show transit users accumulate anywhere between 12 and 18 minutes of additional walking per day compared to non-transit users, and can get 25 per cent of their daily recommended physical activity that way.

The results showed on a weigh scale as well, with average transit users weighing 6.5 pounds less than their bumper-to-bumper counterparts, and are 81 per cent less likely to develop obesity as they age.

Transit is also statistically safer than driving. In an analysis of three decades of traffic data from 100 U.S. cities, a 10 per cent increase in the percentage of “passenger-miles” of travel using public transit resulted in a 1.5 per cent reduction in traffic fatalities.

Surrey is specifically mentioned in the policy brief, which states that if the city wants to create walkable communities it will require significant investment in transit. According to Mayor Linda Hepner, Surrey and other South Fraser communities stand to benefit from a number of infrastructure improvements – including cycle paths, Light Rail Transit and the Pattullo Bridge replacement – should voters approve a 0.5 per cent Metro Vancouver sales tax that would raise $7.5 billion over the next decade.

However, according to a recent survey, residents south of the Fraser River are among the strongest opponents of the proposed tax. An Insights West poll conducted last week showed 55 per cent of 1,604 Metro Vancouver residents plan to vote “No” to the regional tax, with drivers, residents over 55, South Fraser residents and people who don’t commute during the work week making up the bulk of the opposition.

Ballots are expected to begin arriving in mailboxes on Monday (March 16) and residents have until May 29 to return their vote by mail.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey man found guilty in 2018 murder of his wife

Rizig Bona’s next court date is today

(file photo)
LETTER: Handgun ban would only hurt lawful gun owners

Reader says this will penalize lawful gun owners

Live Well Exercise Clinic CEO Sara Hodson and Trevor Linden’s Club 16 partner Carl Ulmer are pushing for gym memberships and services to become tax deductible. (Contributed photo)
Semiahmoo Peninsula fitness pros leading charge on tax-deductible gym memberships

Live Well Exercise Clinic CEO Sara Hodson pitched idea to deputy prime minister

(Photo: Now-Leader).
Surrey Schools seeking community input for 2021-22 budget

Majority of it is pre-allocated, but room to address priorities in the community

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service hires first three inspectors as ‘next layer of leadership’

Three men have more than 80 years of combined experience

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of deceased Vancouver Island Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife and secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

The centre and left lanes just west of the Brunette Exit were blocked westbound on the Trans Canada Highway the morning of Friday, March, 5, 2021. (Drive BC)
UPDATE: Vehicle incident westbound Highway 1 in Coquitlam cleared

Earlier the centre and left lanes were blocked in the area

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Most Read