A PARTNERSHIP of organisations from the health, transport and local government sectors this week today launched a new policy framework, 'An Australian Vision for Active Transport', setting out a nine point plan for a national approach to boosting participation in walking, cycling and public transport.
The five groups - The Australian Local Government Association, Bus Industry Confederation, Cycling Promotion Fund, the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the International Association of Public Transport – say that a sustainable and healthy future for Australia requires action to encourage more Australians to use active transport.
The groups are calling on the Australian government to make a major commitment to active transport in Australia. In the nine point plan, the report states the Australian government should:
- Develop an integrated national active transport strategy that embraces policy and planning for the major components: walking; cycling; and public transport;
- Develop clear and realistic targets for active transport and physical activity outcomes;
- Provide local government authorities with substantial, sustained and targeted funding for active transport;
- Support the development and widespread application of Healthy Spaces and Places planning principles;
- Encourage active domestic tourism by funding major regional projects such as rail trails, cycle routes and hiking tracks;
- Promote a safe environment for people who choose to walk, cycle or take public transport and review jurisdictional approaches to the legislative protection of vulnerable road users;
- Fund social marketing programs to promote the many benefits of walking and cycling for people of all ages;
- Support cycle training and pedestrian education in schools; and
- Provide incentives for employers to encourage employees to walk, cycle or take public transport to work.
"Encouraging Australians to use more active forms of transport rather than cars or taxis has a very wide range of benefits," Vice President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), Mayor Felicity-ann Lewis said.
Ms Lewis said that active transport has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, reduce road congestion, improve physical health and mental wellbeing and reduce the economic burden of chronic diseases caused by inactivity.
Heart Foundation CEO (National) Dr Lyn Roberts said that 54 per cent of Australian adults are not sufficiently physically active, potentially leading to 16,000 premature deaths every year.
The ALGA and Heart Foundation, together with the Planning Institute of Australia, have also created the Healthy Spaces & Places program, a national guide for planning, designing and creating healthy, sustainable, people-friendly places that aims to improve health and wellbeing.