Active Transportation: Equitable, Sustainable and Achievable

An older adult uses a walking stick with his left hand. He holds his grandson’s hand with his right hand.

“The climate crisis is also a health crisis.”

This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) is focusing on encouraging governments to create communities focused on peoples’ physical well-being while also addressing the health of the planet.

With World Health Day and Earth Day just weeks apart, we are reminded of the intersections between climate change and health crisis.

Last summer, B.C. was hit with a “heat dome,” with temperatures soaring to record-breaking points. This catastrophic event severely impacted peoples’ health and caused hundreds of deaths.

The extreme heat also resulted in an earlier than usual wildfire season in the province, which affected people living with respiratory illnesses such as asthma and made recovery difficult for those dealing with the effects of COVID.

These intersectional issues demand urgent solutions that address planetary and human health through equitable, sustainable, and achievable actions.

In BC, there is no shortage of communities that prioritize people and planet health, which is exemplified in the BC Alliance for Healthy Living’s (BCAHL) most recent project: Small Towns, Big Steps in Active Transport.

The project highlights six small communities in B.C. and their success with active transportation, the steps taken, and advice to help other municipalities achieve similar results.

Burns Lake, Duncan, Gibsons, Nelson, Powell River, and Rossland have provided us templates for investing in our communities’ health, as well as the health of our environment and planet. These communities want to keep people moving while also contributing to a healthier planet by encouraging active travel, like cycling, and walking.

The communities featured in the project may be small, but they demonstrate that big actions can be achieved. With community and government support, active transportation can be a sustainable and an equitable solution to encourage physical activity for people of all ages and abilities, while also providing a key factor to combat the climate crisis.

BCAHL continues to support work in policies that focus on movement as well as environmental sustainability, including advocating for increased investment in active transportation and public transit.

The effects of climate change have direct impacts on our bodies, but we can take concrete steps to recover our planet’s health. Let us continue to make active transportation an accessible and equitable reality for our communities, both locally, and globally.

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