Caught (up) in traffic

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References linking transportation and health

The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) features several resources discussing the linkage between transportation and health. Here is the link to the page where they list references like reports from various sources as well as tools.

This is definitely a topic that needs more attention and studies in the Philippines in order to have local evidence (there are already strong evidence abroad) supporting active transportation and how it helps make citizens healthier. Of course, that goes without saying that active transport should be integrated with an efficient public transport system. That is so that the increasing share of private transport can be checked (no thanks to Grab and Uber) and we can either retain or increase public and active transport shares.

On prioritising pedestrians and promoting walking

We begin March with an excellent article that came out from

Walker, A. (2018) The case against sidewalks and how cities can create new avenues for pedestrians,, [Last accessed 2/23/2018].

How do we improve the environment (i.e., facilities) to encourage people to walk? Do we simply clear up sidewalks? Widen them? Build overpasses and underpasses? What should be the context for improving pedestrian facilities for our cities and municipalities? What are the implications to planning and design?

Commuting and stress

Here is another quick post but on a topic that’s related to health and therefore is something that I think many should be interested in and perhaps take important note of.

Commuting: “The Stress that Doesn’t Pay”

There are many links to various medical articles within the article. At the last part, there is also a list of references that the reader may want to look at. I’m also posting this for future reference. This would contribute to the formulation of topics for research especially the inter-disciplinary or collaborative kind.

Walking is good for you!

I found the following graphic on social media (Facebook). It shows the benefits of walking, particularly 30 minutes of walking per day. There are many studies that have established the benefits of what is now termed as ‘active transport’ that includes walking and cycling to promote healthy communities and cities. If only our communities and cities are more walkable then perhaps more people can be encouraged to walk more and there will be a reduction of motor vehicle traffic. The latter will be those vehicles used for short distance trips that are typically associated with distances suitable for walking rather than riding or using a motor vehicle.


The benefits of walking

I came across an old article on walking that appeared in The New Yorker in 2014. This was after reading another article my wife shared that also was about walking. One is about both the physical and intellectual benefits of walking while the other was about walking without a purpose. Both were about walking and thinking, and definitely about the benefits of even a short stroll to our physical and mental being.

Here’s the article from The New Yorker: Why walking helps us think

And the article from BBC: The slow death of purposeless walking

I highly recommend both articles as we ponder about making our cities safe for pedestrians/walking.

Encouraging and providing incentives for walking

A friend based in Singapore posted a photo showing a poster promoting a ‘National Steps Challenge’. The objective apparently and obviously is for Singaporeans and foreign nationals living there to get into walking. The target, according to the poster, is 10,000 steps per day. There are even illustrations in the poster showing estimates of  how many steps you can do at the home, the office or during your regular commute.

Steps challenge[Photo courtesy of Engr. Joy Garcia]

Such programs are exemplary and are aimed at boosting citizen’s health and welfare. Of course, Singapore can do this and many will respond even without rewards because Singapore has excellent transport infrastructure including an extensive public transport system and suitably designed pedestrian facilities.

Can cities in the Philippines come up with a similar challenge? Are there cities with good enough pedestrian facilities that can lead the way and become good practice examples in promoting walking; not just for the reason of commuting but also as a means to achieve better health among its citizens? Authorities can even include infographics on promotions showing the number of calories you can burn for typical walking trips as well as the health benefits one can derive from walking regularly. I think there are many cities that have decent infrastructure and attractive routes to promote walking. Among them are Vigan City, Marikina City, Legazpi City, Iloilo City and Davao City. Hopefully, these cities can take the cue from Singapore in promoting walking and perhaps, too, a national agency like the Department of Health can pitch in to promote this worthwhile cause for healthier lifestyles.

Health and commuting

Why is good public transportation especially transit important? Perhaps transport engineers and planners often get lost in trying to explain this from the perspectives of travel efficiency (e.g., reduced travel times, fuel efficiency, more capacity in terms of people carried, etc.) and environmental concerns (e.g., reduced emissions, reduced noise, etc.). Perhaps, too, there’s a need to articulate the importance of good public transport from the perspective of health. How many people do running, jogging or walking in the mornings, afternoons or evenings just to lose weight? How many go to gyms to workout? Perhaps the key to health lies in just walking everyday and integrating that healthy walk in your daily commutes. Here is a nice article from the Wall Street Journal on the link between the way you commute and a healthy life:

Your Commute Could Help You Lose Weight

Somethings I miss from living in Japan and Singapore are my regular walks to and from the transit station. I recall really good walks between the Transport Laboratory in YNU to the Soetetsu Line Kami Hoshikawa Station. You have to walk up a small mountain almost everyday from the station to the university. I also had good walking buddies back then during my 3 years in Yokohama. Later, I also enjoyed walking or cycling between the Transport Lab at Saitama University and the International House. Often, too, I would walk or cycle to the supermarket, the transit station or just around the neighborhood during free times. In Singapore, our home and the office were also near transit stations so we could take nice walks between them aside from the four flight of stairs to our apartment on the fourth floor. Such healthy commutes can be realized in Philippine cities if proper planning is undertaken and transit projects are implemented not just from the perspective of efficiency but, importantly, from the viewpoint of health. The current state of public transport is not healthy and many, especially those taking the EDSA MRT 3, will say that it is quite stressful to commute in Metro Manila. And stress is definitely not the way to lose weight. Is this true for other Philippine cities as well? Hopefully, we can work out transport solutions that include good public transport to promote healthy lifestyles.