Travel Alternatives to Driving Improve Our Health, Air, and Finances – Environmental Health

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Paul is communications director for Mobility Lab. He specializes in storytelling and editing, as well as environmental and pop-culture issues related to transportation.
December 10, 2012

We all know that driving is not exercise, and that it’s not healthy for us or good for the environment.

But, surprisingly, there had never been a study that actually looked at the CO2 air pollution resulting from active commuting (like bicycling or walking to work) compared to car commuting.

The latest issue of the journal Environmental Health details a survey of more than 3,600 adults in England, who were asked about their modes of travel, general health, and levels of physical activity.

As reported at Eltis’ website:

There was strong evidence that weight status was statistically associated with greater CO2 emissions. Further analysis suggested that this could be because obese people tend to travel longer distances by motorized forms of travel and participate less in “active travel” by bicycle or walking.

Another contributing factor was that obese people were more likely to own vehicles with larger engines; 16 percent of obese participants had very large vehicles compared to 10 percent of non-overweight participants. (Very large vehicles included sports utility vehicles, multi-purpose vehicles, vans and pick-up trucks.)

Physical activity as a means of transport, such as cycling and walking, was associated with low CO2 emissions. However, recreational walking and physical activity was associated with more motorized travel and higher CO2 transport emissions. This may be because cars are often used as transport to the location of leisure activities (like to a tennis court or the start of a walking route).

With the transportation sector creating 23 percent of the CO2 emissions from energy use, the findings of the survey suggest that strengthening travel alternatives to driving would greatly benefit our personal health, the quality of the air that we breathe, and the costs and pollution related to our collective energy use.

Photo by habeebee

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

avatar OC taxi December 10, 2012 at 7:16 PM

Great information, I can’t wait to read the study about the CO2 air pollution resulting from active commuting and exercising.

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