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With Transportation Data, These Cities Became More Sustainable and Socially Inclusive

Active Transport - Mon, 2018-08-13 19:30

Buses in Quito, Ecuador, are using data to mitigate safety concerns. Photo by Malcolm K./Flickr

Cities across the world have pledged to take action on climate change, including planning for more sustainable forms of transportation. Many cities, however, lack the data and information necessary to track and monitor their progress. This data provides valuable examples of transportation patterns and needs, allowing cities to plan mitigation actions that decrease their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – an important step to meeting goals set in the Paris Agreement.

A number of cities have demonstrated additional and unexpected benefits from tracking such information. They have used the data not only to take action on climate change, but also to make their services more socially inclusive. They’re making public transportation more responsive to community members’ needs and seeking to increase access to low-carbon mobility options, such as public transit, bicycling and walking, for everyone.

Here’s how four urban areas analyzed the effectiveness of their public transport options and used that knowledge to achieve improvements for residents.

Semarang City, Indonesia

Since the 2009 installation of the Trans Semarang, a Bus Rapid Transit system in Semarang City, Indonesia, the city’s GHG emissions have been reduced by more than 14,000 tons of CO2e. The Trans Semarang, which was part of an emissions reduction strategy to encourage a shift from private vehicle use and smaller public transport, was so successful that an expansion has already been planned; it includes the addition of a feeder line and six more corridors to augment the current two.

The city also used data on travel use and access by men and women to make the Trans Semarang more gender-responsive. It installed better lighting at stops, added more seating and improved access for women, the elderly and disabled persons, which encouraged more people to shift from private vehicle use to public transportation. The city is still collecting data; it has partnered with IGES to continue analyzing the co-benefits of Trans Semarang, including the decreases in GHG emissions due to modal shifts to public transit.

Semarang City’s efforts demonstrate how a city can use data on transportation and gender to develop a more sustainable and accessible city.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria, has a long history of collecting mobility-related data sets and analyzing them with gender and diversity in mind. According to the city’s Urban Mobility Plan, it intends to further expand its data collection by 2025 to include a data sharing system in a decentralized database “with aspects of diversity and gender mainstreaming in mind, so analysis by characteristics such as age, level of education and sex is possible.” The data currently collected has already helped the city improve pedestrian mobility, such as by installing street lighting to address security concerns and building ramps in stairs to facilitate access for women, the elderly, disabled persons and people with children.

A barrier-free staircase in Vienna provides increased pedestrian access. Photo by Josef Lex/Flickr

Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador, has also used data to shape the city’s urban planning and better respond to the needs of all of its citizens. In a 2011 study, the city found that 68 percent of women had experienced sexual violence in public spaces. In line with the city’s new gender approach to transportation, Quito remodeled almost all trolley stops to address new safety criteria and security concerns. Today, 43 of 44 stops have glass doors that provide secure transfer and waiting areas. Transportation changes like this were only possible with better data collection and analysis.

São Paulo, Brazil

Because most cities were designed with private vehicle use in mind, road safety for cyclists and pedestrians is a serious issue that prevents many people (especially women, children, elderly and disabled persons) from engaging in such forms of active transport. A 2016 survey in São Paulo showed that 76 percent of women who did not cycle pointed to road safety as the reason why. Among women who did cycle, 60 percent found it safe or very safe only when cycling in dedicated infrastructure. Between 2014 and 2015, the city constructed 238km of new bike lanes, and saw a dramatic increase in women cyclists and the total number of cyclists. Increased use of active transport is helping cities like São Paulo reduce their net greenhouse gas emissions.

Different Patterns of Mobility

Research from both developing and developed countries shows that men and women have different patterns of mobility. Men tend to drive private vehicles more often and for longer distances than women. Men are more likely to commute for employment, whereas women tend to engage in trip-chaining, or linking multiple trips for a wider range of activities, such as caregiving and household responsibilities. In general, women walk and take public transportation more than men. Due to security concerns, women also tend to travel more during off-peak hours than men as a way to cope with and avoid harassment and violence. Moreover, women usually spend additional time and money travelling as they are more likely than men to travel with dependents (children and elderly).

Although cities rarely collect data on gender and transport, those that have are demonstrating that good data is a key component for change. As the examples above show, cities that consider the different needs and use patterns of their residents can improve the design of their transit systems, increase ridership and help to create a more sustainable, low-emissions future for their countries.

This blog was originally published on WRI’s Insights. 

Ginette Walls is the Climate Action and Data Outreach Intern at WRI United States.

Cassandra Etter-Wenzel is the Outreach Coordinator for Climate Action & Data at WRI United States.

With Transportation Data, These Cities Became More Sustainable and Socially Inclusive

Latest from Cityfix - Mon, 2018-08-13 19:30
Cities across the world have pledged to take action on climate change, including planning for more sustainable forms of transportation. Many cities, however, lack the data and information necessary to track and monitor their progress. This data provides valuable examples of transportation ...

Continue reading on TheCityFix.com.

Cities Are Taxing Ride-Hailing Services Like Uber and Lyft. Is This a Good Thing?

TOD - Thu, 2018-08-09 18:28

São Paulo is implementing a tax on ride-haling services to mitigate traffic congestion and fulfill the goals in the city’s mobility plan. Photo by Arnaud Matar/Flickr

With ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft continuing to gain popularity and drawing attention for their impact on congestion and other urban ills, cities from Washington to São Paolo are moving to the seemingly inevitable next step: special taxes.

This is unsurprising. Recent researchshows that ride-hailing services are contributing to dropping public transport rates and increased private vehicle travel on already-clogged streets.

However, new taxes and fees shouldn’t just raise revenue. They can do more than that: they can make cities more livable and transport more sustainable. If ride-hailing is taxed, the mechanism and revenue should be used in carefully targeted ways that improve urban mobility overall.

Taxes on Ride-Hailing Enter the Scene

More than a handful of governments have enacted or are considering fees or taxes, that range from flat-rate fees per ride to taxing as a percent of the ride to systems that target certain types and locations of trips.

These take a variety of forms. For example, Mexico City charges 1.5 percent of ride fare; Washington, D.C., recently raised its tax from 1 to 6 percent of ride fare. Massachusetts levies a 20-cent tax on every trip. Porto Alegre has a monthly fee per licensed vehicle.

A full inventory of city measures to gain revenue from ride-hailing services is provided in a spreadsheet compiled by WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.

Improving Mobility for the City

While new taxes bring in new revenue, these monies aren’t necessarily making it easier to get around. For example, in Rhode Island a 7 percent tax on ride-hailing sends revenue directly to the state’s general fund. In Philadelphia, a 1.4 percent tax sends money mostly to schools and the remaining third to the city’s parking authority. These taxes are also not high enough to change travel behavior in a meaningful way, since transport can sometimes be less sensitive to higher prices.

A tax or charge on ride-hailing—and private traffic as a whole—should improve cities’ transport systems overall, as stated in the Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities: “Every vehicle and mode should pay their fair share for road use, congestion, pollution, and use of curb space. The fair share shall take the operating, maintenance and social costs into account.”

While ride-hailing trends are still changing, and will continue to change as technologies evolve, here are considerations for any city to contemplate in levying taxes that not only raise money but improve mobility for residents too:

1. Encourage more sustainable trips for all users.Any discussion should begin with a consideration of allvehicle traffic. People driving their own private cars continue to dominate traffic, and cause congestion, in most cities.

Places like London, Singapore and Stockholm are known for their congestion charges, but no city has yet comprehensively factored in ride-hailing.

Efforts to charge all road users are bubbling up, however. New York City flirted with a proposal to implement a congestion charging zone coupled with ride-hailing fees, but the State of New York balked and implemented only the ride-hailing fees, leaving anyone driving their own personal car into Manhattan’s central business district untouched.

If cities are going ahead with taxes only on ride-hailing, they should encourage sustainable and shared travel over single-occupant rides. This means taxing ride-hailing as a percent of the fare or indexing to distance travelled, rather than a flat fee that would be the same regardless of the ride fare or distance. Most cities are already going this route.

Moreover, shared rides can be taxed at a lower rate than solo rides, or rather, solo rides could be taxed more to incentivize pooled rides. A current proposal in Washington, D.C., aims to reduce the planned tax to 1 percent for pooled rides.

2. Promote equity and access. Taxes should encourage service to transit-poor areas of the city and connectivity to transit generally. Most especially, they shouldn’t hinder new mobility services where they may provide low-cost rides to residents in low-income areas or areas poorly serviced by public transport.

São Paulo, the first city to regulate ride-hailing in Brazil, applies its taxaccording not only to vehicle miles traveled but also equity factors such as whether a driver is a woman and whether the vehicle is accessible to the handicapped. Shared, electric/hybrid, off-peak and weekend trips are all further discounted. A next consideration of cities may be how to incentivize integration with public transit or access to poorly service areas.

3. Invest revenue in multiple modes.Revenue from ride-hailing taxes, like many existing gas taxes or subway fares, should go toward improving mobility systems. It’s also important to support other modes of transport beyond the large public transit systems most commonly assumed to suffer from ride-hailing (like metro rail and buses). Improving road safety or adding bicycle lanes and pedestrian spaces are also ways to support a more holistic approach to urban transport.

Washington, DC’s 6 percent tax on all ride-hail fares will fund the metro area’s public transport agency, yet it is limited to public transport and not aimed at increasing cycling or walking. Fortaleza, Brazil, on the other hand, reduces its 2 percent tax on every trip to 1 percent for companies that make contributions towards urban mobility projects, such as sidewalks, bus lanes, bicycle lanes and bikeshare stations.

Ironically, a more useful guide may be London’s congestion charge, which exempts for-hire vehicles such as ride-hailing services. To reduce traffic in highly-congested areas, the city charges all cars entering central London and uses the £1.7 billion ($2.2 billion) revenue to improve bus services, bicycle commuting and walking, and road safety. And recently, Transport for London is proposing expansion of its congestion charge to for-hire vehicles.

How Does Ride-Hailing Fit the Bigger Picture?

As new mobility services change cities and the way people move, today’s decisions on taxes and other regulations can help shape a more sustainable mobility for all. There is more to consider, in terms of how to tax, how much to charge and where to send revenues—but taking a more holistic approach to understanding the impact of those policies is a good start.

This article was originally published on WRI Insights.

Ben Welle is Global Health & Road Safety Manager at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.

Guillermo Petzhold is Urban Mobility Specialist at WRI Brasil.

Francisco Minella Pasqual is an Urban Mobility Intern at WRI Brazil.

Cities Are Taxing Ride-Hailing Services Like Uber and Lyft. Is This a Good Thing?

Latest from Cityfix - Thu, 2018-08-09 18:28
With ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft continuing to gain popularity and drawing attention for their impact on congestion and other urban ills, cities from Washington to São Paolo are moving to the seemingly inevitable next step: special taxes. This is unsurprising. ...

Continue reading on TheCityFix.com.

4 Lessons from Bhopal and Bogotá on Launching Citywide Bike Sharing

Latest from Cityfix - Tue, 2018-08-07 13:13
Bike sharing has experienced astonishing growth since its first major breakthrough 20 years ago. Following the rise of dockless bike sharing, more than 1,000 cities worldwide now offer bike-sharing services. Around 300 cities implemented new systems in 2017 alone. Bike ...

Continue reading on TheCityFix.com.

The $250,000 Question: What Does a Transformative Urban Project Look Like?

Latest from Cityfix - Thu, 2018-08-02 02:33
The WRI Ross Prize for Cities seeks to answer the question every city wants to know: How do you achieve lasting, large-scale, positive change in your city? This week, applications for the inaugural $250,000 WRI Ross Prize closed and the ...

Continue reading on TheCityFix.com.

Building Efficiency Isn’t Cool, But It’s Critical. How Can We Spur a Global Movement?

Latest from Cityfix - Tue, 2018-07-31 13:13
The time has never been better – or more critical – for spurring a global building efficiency movement. Building efficiency is one of the most effective near-term opportunities for achieving climate and energy goals. Better efficiency policies for new and ...

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Amid Climate Uncertainty, Zero-Carbon Buildings Offer a Guiding North Star

Latest from Cityfix - Thu, 2018-07-26 21:10
“Back in the good old days, the construction industry had to worry about a few keys things: Will it stand up, is it functional and does it look nice? Not so anymore.” So began WRI President and CEO Andrew Steer ...

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As Road Accidents Pile Up, India Debates a New National Safety Law

Health and environment - Tue, 2018-07-24 21:28

India’s roads are among the most dangerous on the planet. A new bill is under discussion to increase penalties for bad behavior, protect good Samaritans and make other changes. Photo by Adam Cohn/Flickr

In July last year, Nitin Gadkari, India’s minister for road transport and highways, informed parliament that the country loses over 150,000 lives to road traffic accidents every year. More damningly, the country has only about 2 percent of the world’s motor vehicles but accounts for over 12 percent of its traffic accident deaths, making the Indian road network the most unsafe on the planet.

Unsafe roads are a public health hazard, approaching, in India’s case, an epidemic that not only kills and maims but harms the country’s economic health. According to a study by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, road traffic accidents cost India nearly 3 percent of its gross domestic product a year, or, in absolute terms, about $58 billion.

Globally, the countries that have succeeded in reducing road accident deaths have done so by enacting strong laws for road safety. India, on the other hand, has been trying to strengthen its road safety legislation for three decades, to no avail.

In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party government drafted the Road Transport and Safety Bill to replace the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, which currently governs road safety in the country. But the law did not move beyond public consultation and was subsequently replaced by the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in April 2017 and sent to the Rajya Sabha, which referred it to a select committee in August 2017.

When the bill was debated on Monday, the Trinamool Congress, DMK, left-wing parties and Aam Aadmi Party opposed the bill, contending that it diluted the powers of state governments. The Congress Party added that the legislation was aimed at helping corporations.

The Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill proposes to increase the penalties for traffic violations. If the violations are committed by a juvenile driver, their guardian or the owner of their vehicle shall be held accountable. It also protects good Samaritans who come forward to help accident victims from civil or criminal liability. Further, the bill envisages a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund that will provide compulsory insurance coverage to all road users for certain types of accidents. Another crucial provision holds consultants, contractors and civic agencies accountable for poor design or construction and maintenance of roads. Lastly, the bill empowers the government to recall vehicles or vehicle parts that don’t meet the required standards and fine their manufacturers up to Rs 500 crore (about $73 million).

In the meantime, though, some states have taken steps to improve road safety on their own. Haryana, for example, launched a “Vision Zero” program last year aimed at reducing road traffic fatalities to zero in the long term. It seems to have made a difference already as 10 districts where it was rolled out have reported up to 5 percent declines in road fatalities while the other 12 districts have witnessed an increase in such deaths. This month, Delhi’s state government approved a similar policy; it commits to a 10 percent reduction in accident deaths annually and targets “zero road fatalities” in the long run.

A strong central legislation will only empower such states to work more effectively towards making their roads safer.

Clearly, the need to pass the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill urgently cannot be overstated.

The original version of this article appeared on Scroll.

Amit Bhatt is the Director of Integrated Transport at WRI India Ross Center.

As Road Accidents Pile Up, India Debates a New National Safety Law

Latest from Cityfix - Tue, 2018-07-24 21:28
In July last year, Nitin Gadkari, India’s minister for road transport and highways, informed parliament that the country loses over 150,000 lives to road traffic accidents every year. More damningly, the country has only about 2 percent of the world’s motor vehicles ...

Continue reading on TheCityFix.com.

The Better Bus Challenge: Accelerating Mobility Innovation for Public Transit in India

Latest from Cityfix - Fri, 2018-07-20 13:13
Over the last decade, India has established itself as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Along with an annual GDP growth rate of 7.1 percent, the country is adding over 12 million people to the workforce every year. Coupled ...

Continue reading on TheCityFix.com.

Independence Haze: Data Shows Air Pollution Spikes from July 4th Fireworks

Latest from Cityfix - Thu, 2018-07-19 13:13
Fireworks, block parties and barbeques: Those are the first things that come to mind when the 4th of July rolls around. But what’s least talked about is the quality of breathable air on the nation’s birthday. Data shows that levels of fine ...

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Why We Need a Summit on Youth Urban Road Safety

Health and environment - Tue, 2018-07-17 20:13

In cities around the world, children are unequally burdened by the threat of vehicular traffic and road crashes. Photo by Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil

Our cities are rapidly expanding, and with them motorization is increasing at an unchecked pace. Unless the global community takes meaningful strides to address the impact of these trends on the most vulnerable in our society, we will be met by a catastrophic health emergency.

Every three minutes a child or young person dies as a result of road traffic injury. A quarter of a million children and adolescents die on the world’s roads every year. Road traffic injury is the fifth-leading cause of death for children aged 5 to 14 years old.

Beyond the headline figure, for every child who dies, another suffers an irrevocably life-changing disability. For each disability, there are several serious injuries.

In New York this week, governments are meeting for a High-Level Political Forum to assess progress on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 11: to make cities “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

High-Level Political Forums offer the opportunity to share successes and pave the way to scale up activity to really move towards the 2030 SDG targets. But this is only possible if countries commit to reporting progress made (or not made), so we can understand baseline activities and share in each other’s successes and challenges. That is why the FIA Foundation is calling for a summit for child and adolescent health to put young people at the top of the urban policy agenda.

An Unequal Burden

By 2030, the world is likely to have 43 megacities (those with more than 10 million inhabitants), mostly in developing countries. By 2050, two thirds of the world’s population are likely to be living in cities or other urban centers. In New York this week, countries have the option to submit what are called Voluntary National Reviews to share examples of proactive efforts to achieve the SDGs. It is clear from the reviews submitted that, despite the alarming trends, sustainable transport remains an abstract concept for many countries.

While 95 percent of reporting countries made reference to transport, just 38 percent described specific policy measures or case studies on sustainable transport. A functional and inclusive transport system is crucial to a successful, vibrant city – but how the infrastructure develops, and for whom, are every bit as important as the routes themselves.

Cities across the world have been guilty of designing streets to serve the car-driving minority, and marginalizing the poorest who use public transport, walk or bicycle. From New York to Nairobi, we can see where fast-flowing highways bisect residential areas, presenting a lethal obstacle course for those on foot, while throwing up toxic smog poisoning the lungs of everyone – outside and even inside cars.

The burden of vehicles in cities is carried most heavily by the poorest, but also the youngest.

The joint Overseas Development Institute and WRI Ross Center report, “Securing Safe Roads,” explores varied road safety challenges and their interaction with the political economy. 

In New York City, for example, the child population is evenly spread at around 30 percent of the total. Yet children account for 43 percent of crash victims in lower-income East Harlem compared to 15 percent in the affluent Upper East Side. The World Health Organization says that “many of the children who are victims of this man-made calamity are poor. Attempts to address road safety for children are, therefore, inextricably linked to notions of social justice.”

In African cities, up to 90 percent of children walk to school, but less than 1 in 10 fast roads shared by pedestrians and vehicles (roads with speeds over 40 kilometers per hour) actually have any sidewalks. In urban areas, the dirtiest arterial roads are built away from expensive areas, but the same consideration is often not extended to the city’s poorest.

Urban air pollution is a significant contributor to childhood mortality rates, causing and exacerbating a wide range of serious respiratory and development issues, alongside long-term health conditions. In many cities, vehicles are responsible for a high proportion of air pollution, particularly near busy roads.

Urban traffic pollution particularly affects children because harmful emissions from cars and trucks are delivered directly at street level into their mouths and noses. It has the greatest impact on children under five, killing more than 127,000 each year. Three hundred million children currently live in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds international guidelines by at least six times.

Walking the Talk

Solutions to this great urban challenge are not, however, elusive. By drawing together transport, environment, public health and planning in a holistic approach, cities can begin to reorient around people, not vehicles. Positive examples of smart, intentional urban design and policy have shown that authorities can transform urban spaces into a walkable, livable, healthy environments and make significant inroads to address injuries, air pollution and climate change.

The Global Designing Cities Initiative, for example, works with 40 cities to demonstrate the impact and benefits of changing the hierarchy of street use and design to focus on pedestrians, cyclists and children. London has become the first city in the world to explicitly adopt a public health-first approach to urban planning that encourages active transport and reduces vehicle journeys to improve health outcomes for all.

A summit on child and adolescent health would ensure that the special vulnerability and importance of young people is not lost in these efforts and becomes a more integral part of the SDG reporting process.

As a global community, we have committed to a safe and sustainable transport systems for all by 2030 – including our most vulnerable. It is an ambitious target we should all be proud to work towards and the solutions are within our reach. But for now it remains talk, and our children need action.

Natalie Draisin is the Director of the North American Office and UN Representative for the FIA Foundation.

Why We Need a Summit on Youth Urban Road Safety

Latest from Cityfix - Tue, 2018-07-17 20:13
Our cities are rapidly expanding, and with them motorization is increasing at an unchecked pace. Unless the global community takes meaningful strides to address the impact of these trends on the most vulnerable in our society, we will be met ...

Continue reading on TheCityFix.com.

Design as Democracy: Barcelona’s ‘Carritos’ Encourage a More Inclusive Urbanism

Latest from Cityfix - Mon, 2018-07-16 13:13
Community participation has become a checklist item for any major urban development project. But what does community participation actually mean? What would it look like if we flipped the responsibility of engagement from citizens to designers? What if, instead of ...

Continue reading on TheCityFix.com.

6 Transport Solutions to Give İzmir’s Historic Center Back to the People

Latest from Cityfix - Wed, 2018-07-11 13:13
With 5,000 years of history and culture, the city of İzmir along the Ionian Coast is one of Turkey’s most remarkable urban areas. It’s a unique nexus between the past and present, with a variety of archaeological conservation sites but also Turkey’s ...

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Do More Cyclists Mean a Happier City? Yes and No

Latest from Cityfix - Mon, 2018-07-09 13:13
Across Colombia’s cities, bicycle users are the most satisfied commuters, according to a new survey. In 2016, 86 percent of bicyclists in 18 cities were satisfied with their commutes, compared to just 48 percent for mass transit and 74 percent ...

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How a Small Experiment in Delhi’s Suburbs Sparked a National Car-Free Movement

Latest from Cityfix - Thu, 2018-07-05 13:13
Imagine a city where roads that are normally clogged with traffic and clouded with smog are instead filled with people – rich and poor, young and old, men and women, all laughing, dancing, watching their children play, cycling Raahgand skating ...

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Low-Carbon Cities Are Better for Your Health Than Any Superfood

Health and environment - Mon, 2018-07-02 13:13

Ambitious action to reduce urban greenhouse gas emissions would not only help avoid damages, but address a whole range of other risks, from traffic accidents to air pollution. Photo by Katie Wheeler/Flickr

Climate change is already harming people’s health. In August last year, over 45 million people in India, Bangladesh and Nepal were affected by unprecedented monsoon flooding, while last year’s Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest on record. The scale of both disasters can be partially attributed to rising global temperatures.

The good news, though, is that efforts to tackle climate change could make people healthier. Bold action to reduce greenhouse gases from buildings, transport and waste could improve physical and psychological wellbeing right here, right now.

This is the finding of a new paper published by the Coalition for Urban Transitions on the benefits of low-carbon cities. The authors reviewed over 700 papers to understand the social and economic impacts of measures to reduce carbon emissions in urban buildings, transportation and waste. They conclusively find that climate action can improve people’s health by reducing the incidence of respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, injuries and infections.

Safer Transport

Outdoor air pollution is a global killer, leading to the premature deaths of around 4.2 million people each year. Another 1.25 million people are killed in road crashes every year. In China alone, shifting people out of cars and on to buses or bikes could avoid over half a million preventable deaths annually.

Many people choose not to walk or cycle because of the risk: half of the global road fatalities occur among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Segregated bike lanes and sidewalks can protect these vulnerable commuters, encouraging more people to cycle and walk. The resulting shift out of cars is not only good for people’s physical fitness, but also for the climate.

Some researchers have estimated the monetary value of these health benefits. A commuter who switches from driving to cycling for five kilometers each way, five days a week, would experience health benefits worth about $1,900 per year.

Better Buildings

Globally, 450 million people suffer from mental disorders, placing those troubles as one of the leading causes of ill-health and disability. Investing in buildings with natural light, pleasant temperatures and green space could improve the wellbeing of occupants immensely.

The evidence shows that improving the energy efficiency in commercial buildings reduces the number of work days lost due to respiratory illnesses, allergies, flu, depression and stress. When workers moved from conventional to green office buildings, their absences due to illnesses and stress fall especially fast.

The health benefits of energy efficiency are even more pronounced in people’s homes. In Ireland, insulating homes yields has led to fewer sick days and reduced hospital admissions. These health improvements could be worth nearly twice as much as the savings from reduced energy consumption.

Seizing the Health Opportunity

Cycling to your sustainable office and back to your well-insulated house would benefit the environment. But to those for whom that may not be enough, this new evidence on the scale of the health benefits may help. It is clear that ambitious climate action in cities can provide multiple tangible benefits for people.

Governments have many options to both improve health and cut emissions. They can introduce building codes that require landlords and homeowners to improve building efficiency. They can establish mandatory performance standards for light bulbs, appliances and vehicles. And they can design taxes, fees and charges to incentivize people to behave in more sustainable ways. Congestion pricing, for instance, along with road design changes can help deter people from driving and encourage them to take up other modes of transport.

These may seem like costs, but in fact, when weighed against the catastrophic impacts of climate change, that can be better understood as investments. Ambitious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cities would not only help avoid damages, but address a whole range of other risks, from traffic accidents to air pollution to inequality. Climate action, in short, can help create healthier cities for all.

Catlyne Haddaoui is a Research Analyst at the Coalition for Urban Transitions.

Low-Carbon Cities Are Better for Your Health Than Any Superfood

Latest from Cityfix - Mon, 2018-07-02 13:13
Climate change is already harming people’s health. In August last year, over 45 million people in India, Bangladesh and Nepal were affected by unprecedented monsoon flooding, while last year’s Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest on record. The scale of ...

Continue reading on TheCityFix.com.

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