Published on August 19th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan5
Transit Benefits Your Health and Saves Your Life
August 19th, 2010 by Zachary Shahan
I’ve reported on Cleantechnica before about the great financial savings of using mass transit, and the latest analysis out by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) shows that the average American transit rider saves $9,381 a year by leaving their car at home. But, something I have not written about much on here are the health benefits of riding transit.
There are big advantages to riding transit when it comes to our health. I notice this without any studies telling me so, but it is always nice to see some information that backs up our intuitions or experiential knowledge. Luckily, a new study out by APTA does just that.
The report is actually a survey of current research on this matter. The general finding is that “people who live in communities with high-quality public transportation drive less, exercise more, live longer, and are generally healthier than residents of communities that lack quality public transit.”
The study, Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits [PDF], was conducted for APTA by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute and it aggregates the findings of several recent academic studies.
Due to less driving, people in transit-oriented “smart growth” communities have fewer fatal automobile accidents, have less health-damaging pollution, and get much-needed regular physical activity more than people in other communities.
“Public transportation enhances the overall quality of life of an individual and a community,” said APTA president William Millar. “Use of public transit simply means that you walk more which increases fitness levels and leads to healthier citizens. More importantly, increasing use of public transit may be the most effective traffic safety counter measure a community can employ.”
Living in a transit-oriented community lessens an individual’s risk in 5 of the 10 leading causes of reduced lifespan, causes which have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The 10 U.S. counties with the “smartest,” most transit-oriented development patterns have approximately 1/4 the traffic fatalities of te communities with the most sprawling patterns of development. Think your kids are safer in the suburbs? Think again.