The Hidden Costs of Highways: How The Investment of Vehicle Orientated Infrastructure is Affecting our Health
Our mobility is bound by the linkages available to us and the built environment that surrounds us. But how does our transportation choices in our city affect our health and well being ?
This is a question that is gaining prevalence as cities grow, densify and complicate the daily journey of urban dwellers.
A report released by the American Health Association has brought to light the limitations that auto-oriented transit planning has incurred on American cities over the last century. The report is able to extrapolate relationships that expose the profound cost that the automobile may not only be having on American cities but on cities all over the world.
Issues that are raised include:
Road toll in traffic crashes that would be severely reduced if the same number of commuters had been public transport users;
Asthma and other respiratory illnesses associated with automobile pollution, and the costs that are associated with treating these health issues;
Obesity and mental issues resulting from the immobility associated with driving;
Marginalized groups being ostracized from the city center due to urban sprawl; and
Land use patterns that develop from automobile usage, creating ‘suburbia’ that exponentially increases travel time, and utilises potentially fertile land that could be used to a greater environmental/social benefit.
As much as we may read about or partially experience the benefits of sustainable transport in on our city, the sheer growth and power of the city can intimidate and prevent us from habitually resorting to utilizing sustainable forms of transport.
The time is now – for us to architect our own urban environment. For as this automobile dependence steepens concurrently with the world’s urbanization, the associated social and health costs from their development will only succeed in degrading the liveability of our cities.
As the 3rd World becomes urbanized, how we can implement or promote sustainable transport programs to set healthy precedents for future growth?
Credits: Image by Steven Petsinis. Data linked to sources.