Better bike network would cut obesity, says Sustrans

By Rosee Woodland | Monday, January 28, 2008 12.00am

Obesity levels will continue to soar unless transport planners follow groundbreaking guidance encouraging walking and cycling as physical activity, UK cycling charity Sustrans says.

Sustrans has applauded the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for recommending that cyclists and pedestrians should be given priority in planning and building towns and cities.

The NICE recommendations include the creation of comprehensive walking and cycling networks, to help people lead a healthy, active life, along with restricting motor vehicle access, the reallocation of road space, and road-user charging. 

This is the first time NICE has drawn up recommendations aimed at land use and transport planners; the guidance was developed by a panel of independent experts including Sustrans.

Now Sustrans is calling on the Department for Transport and local authorities to act on the guidance.

Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans’ operations director, said: “These are excellent recommendations from NICE, addressing the conflict between the Government’s wish to promote healthy living and a transport and planning system which deters people from walking and cycling.

“Everything NICE recommends as health promoting will also help address climate change and make urban areas more people friendly and livable. This guidance should be the final argument convincing the transport sector of the role they play in enabling people to lead healthy lifestyles, and to make walking and cycling the first priority for all local trips.”

Today’s guidance follows the Foresight Report in October, which put the potential cost of the obesity epidemic to the UK by 2050 at more than £45billion a year - almost half the NHS budget.

The complete guidance can be viewed here.

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