Wednesday, June 16, 2010

External Costs of Auto-Dependent Lifestyle and Advances of Zero-Emission Modes

The American Public Health Association (APHA) follows up its 2009 report about the important link between transportation and public health. In At the Intersection of Public Health and Transportation: Promoting Healthy Transportation Policy, APHA turned its attention to mobility options, including public transit, walking, and biking. APHA questioned the current design of communities, the allocation of transportation dollars, and the paucity of public health funding to encourage mobility options that promote health.

Now APHA attempts to start quantifying the health-related external costs of auto-dependency in The Hidden Health Costs of Transportation. The report recommends a re-thinking of the current federal funding allocations that primarily support an inherently unhealthy mode of transportation.
A considerable increase in transportation investments is needed to offer more balanced and affordable modes of transport including biking, walking and public transit. Currently 80%of federal transportation funding goes toward building highways and improving road infrastructures, and approximately 20% goes toward public transit andmotor vehicle safety programs.

This report dovetails nicely with the Department of Transportation (DOT)report, The National Bicycling and Walking Study: 15–Year Status Report, which finds a considerable increase in biking and walking, with a reduction in fatalities. However, walking represents only about 10 percent of all trips, while biking, with all its increases and public relations, comes in at a measly (approximately) one percent.

The report does a good job of describing the available resources and explaining the limitations of its data collection and statistical findings.

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