In BC, active transportation and public transit are always a hot topic. Walking and cycling routes are seen as a blessing by those who use them, but as a curse for those whom they inconvenience. Public transit, on the other hand, is known for being crowded in the city and infrequent in small towns, yet it is an important people-mover as 263 million transit trips are taken throughout BC every year.
Despite opposing views, most British Columbians agree that it is necessary to enhance active transportation infrastructure and improve accessibility of public transportation. After all, access to active and public transportation systems is a vital way for people to get around while simultaneously increasing their health and benefiting the environment and the economy.
Although BC residents are some of the healthiest in Canada, one in five British Columbians have an unhealthy weight and 1.5 million are classified as inactive. This costs the province an estimated $573 million per year.
While making time for the gym can be difficult (and not appealing to everyone!), a simple way to increase physical activity levels is by using active transportation or public transit. In fact, those that take transit are 22% less likely to be an unhealthy weight, and those who commute by bike or foot are 48% less likely.
However, active and public transportation are not the norm in BC. 70.8% of Vancouver residents make their daily commute by car, along with 92% of individuals from suburbs like Abbotsford and Mission. Driving to work not only increases daily sedentary time, but also negatively affects the environment by contributing to increased carbon emissions and air pollution.
Imagine if all BC communities had streets and paths that made it a pleasure to walk or bike to where people needed to go, and that it was easy to catch a bus, and those local networks were connected to other regional destinations.
- Can you see how that could get people out and about in their community?
- Can you see how that would get people out of their cars and moving more regularly?
- Can you see how that would work for young people and the elderly?
- Can you see how more foot traffic would support local shops?
That is the vision of healthy community transportation as laid out in the Communities on the Move declaration.
BCHLA, together with other partners in Communities on the Move, are encouraging the provincial government to support this positive vision by making investments that support active, connected, and healthy communities. Communities on the Move prioritizes the health and well-being of communities across BC by asking for:
- Increased support and long-term funding for transit;
- A Provincial Active Transportation Strategy and Fund;
- Commitment to equity and mobility for all;
- Regional considerations because remote or small towns and large urban centres have different needs; and a
- Commitment to safety.
Together we can work towards making communities across British Columbia connected, safe, and active, and shift the discussion on active and public transportation to a more positive one. To show your support, please have your organization endorse the declaration here. Let’s #MoveBC
Practicum Student, BCHLA
January 24 2017