Call to ditch the car
An Auckland doctor is calling on newly elected council officials to develop alternatives to steer people away from their dependence on cars.
College of Public Health Medicine president Julia Peters says the current over-reliance on private vehicles has negative impacts on health through pollution, increased sedentary time and road traffic crashes.
The inner city resident would like to see active travel and public transport prioritised by the mayor and councillors.
‘‘Active and sustainable modes of transport, such as walking and cycling, positively affect health. There are strong links between ‘incidental’ exercise and improved health,’’ she says.
‘‘Walking or cycling can improve physical and mental health, community life, social wellbeing and community safety.’’
Dr Peters says journeys of less than two kilometres can be completed by most people using their legs.
She says the second best option is public transport, which also encourages physical activity and produces less harmful emissions when compared with cars.
‘‘But the current transport infrastructure focuses on private vehicle transport,’’ she says.
The Puketapapa Local Board is one local authority that already has a focus on developing transport alternatives.
The board has been working on laying greenways throughout its electorate since 2011.
A greenway is a network of attractive and safe routes for cyclists and walkers through parks and along slow-speed ‘green streets’.
The project was put in place by former board chairman Richard Barter who wanted to popularise cycling.
Nine other local boards are implementing greenway plans.
Get moving: Mayor Len Brown with former Puketapapa Local Board chairman Richard Barter opening a section of the greenway cycle path earlier this year.