More than 140 leading doctors and health professionals in Edinburgh have written an open letter to the City Council supporting the retention and extension of changes to the city’s travel infrastructure.
The medics say the changes are potentially life-saving. The letter says they have the twin benefits of improving public health and mitigating the climate emergency.
During Scotland’s first lockdown, The City of Edinburgh Council made a host of changes to paths, pavements, walkways and cycle lanes to allow for residents to exercise whilst maintaining physical distancing. The council has said that the project saw a surge in people walking and cycling.
Bridie Ashrowan (EVOC Chief Executive) commented:
‘We at EVOC offer our full support to this campaign by over 140 of Edinburgh’s health professionals to encourage the City of Edinburgh Council to retain and extend changes to the City’s travel infrastructure. It is important that having taken positive steps to make safe, active spaces that enable the citizens and communities of Edinburgh to thrive, the Council considers this a key step in the fight to improve public health and mitigate the climate emergency. Through our delivery of the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme, in partnership with Paths For All, we have been involved in research that clearly highlights the positive impact that active travel can play to benefit and there is evidence from multiple sources to support it as a cost-effective approach to addressing other societal challenges (see below).’
- Health – It is estimated that physical inactivity has a direct cost to the NHS of £0.9 billion per year (source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/physical-activity-applying-all-our-health/physical-activity-applying-all-our-health)
- Economy – Cycling alone is worth over £500m a year to the Scottish economy (source: https://www.cycling.scot/news-and-blog/article/cycling-worth-over-500m-a-year-to-scottish-economy)
- Urban realm – In the UK, pedestrian friendly city centre environments have been associated with as much as a 30% uplift in retail takings (source: https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/media/3890/pedestrian-pound-2018.pdf)
- Social inclusion – there are significant linkages between social inclusion and the ability to be mobile. Increasing active travel options has been shown to decrease social isolation levels (source: https://www.cogitatiopress.com/socialinclusion/article/download/1289/1289)