An alliance of 18 Australian health organisations has launched a public petition calling for healthy transport and headlined by the need for better infrastructure to encourage active transport.
The Healthy Transport campaign comprises groups including the Climate and Health Alliance, the Australian Health Promotion Association, the Consumer Health Forum of Australia, Doctors for the Environment Australia, the Australian Primary Care Nurses Association and the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association.
It is appealing to the Federal Minister for Transport, Catherine King, to “mitigate the negative health impacts of Australia’s transport system” by achieving cleaner air and safer transport infrastructure.
The campaign is calling for:
- Public infrastructure to encourage walking and cycling
- An electrified public transport system
- Fuel efficiency standards for cleaner cars
- Electric vehicle infrastructure
- Climate and health impact assessments for new infrastructure projects
It follows the release of a new report by the Climate and Health Alliance, Clearing the Air: Transport decarbonisation and our health, which reviews the health outcomes of Australia’s transport system.
According to a statement for the Healthy Transport campaign:
- Air pollution from road transport is linked with thousands of premature deaths in Australia
- The University of Melbourne estimates that transport-related air pollution causes 19,000 hospitalisations from heart and respiratory conditions and 66,000 cases of asthma each year
- Car-centric cities encourage physical inactivity, causally linked with type 2 diabetes, dementia, coronary heart disease, stroke, depression, and some cancers
- In 2021-22, more than 60,000 people were hospitalised and over 1,000 died with road-related injuries
The Australasian College of Road Safety is also backing the campaign and its CEO, Dr Ingrid Johnston, said active and sustainable mobility options, such as public transport, must be prioritised to decarbonise the transport system to benefit road safety and the environment.
“Providing affordable, safe, accessible and available public transport, as well as access to active travel infrastructure such as cycle paths, footpaths, and safe pedestrian crossing facilities, is key to changing how our communities move about,” she said.