Campaign for Better Transport calls for transport policies that lead to better health

Derrick Coffee
County Officer
Campaign for Better Transport, East Sussex
9 Mayfield Place, Eastbourne
BN22 8XJ

16th September 2008



WALKING, CYCLING – KEY TO A HEALTHIER POPULATION say local transport group Campaign for Better Transport.

In a response to a recent NHS South East Coast consultation, Healthier people, excellent care, the group concluded that alternatives to the car are an important route to healthy lifestyles and improvements in public health, particularly for the young. The recognition given in the draft document to the importance of healthy lifestyles is welcome.

Speaking for the East Sussex Group, County Officer Derrick Coffee said:

Although there is a greater appreciation of the importance of healthy lifestyles, we continue to plan for a car based future – the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road is a good example of this mistaken approach.

We would like the NHS to add their voice to a call for a speeding up of the provision of safe routes for walking and cycling in order to tackle what it sees as the major health issues of today, and to reduce dependence on the car. Ideally this should be accompanied by support for locally available services and shops which are walkable and cycleable.

Key objectives for those in the NHS concerned with health improvement include: reducing levels of obesity; improving diets; increasing exercise; increasing life expectancy; and improving mental health.

Campaign for Better Transport believes that the strategies to achieve these can be easily understood and explained, even though plans that should follow are slow to materialise:

Safe walking and cycling networks linking popular and important destinations for healthcare, shopping, education and leisure would promote better health. Even the walk to the bus stop or station can help

Such networks would support local shops and services such as those under threat in Bohemia, Ore, West Marina and Silverhill, allowing more people to obtain fresh produce to aid a healthy diet – particularly important for the elderly and those without access to a car

The resulting reduction in traffic, and through 20mph zones, the improvement in safety, would lead to more walking and cycling and public transport usage

Safer and quieter streets would create a better public realm and more opportunities for social interaction

All of this would create greater independence and reduce isolation for all vulnerable members of society and this would be likely to lead to improvements in mental health

"All of this fits perfectly with the aspirations of the consultation document, and could happen at a fraction of the cost of the £100m Link Road", concluded Derrick Coffee, "at the same time saving the NHS huge sums of money that could be better spent."

Derrick Coffee, County Officer, Campaign for Better Transport, East Sussex

9 Mayfield Place, Eastbourne. BN22 8XJ 01323 646866/01424 446373

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