UK: GPs to prescribe walking and cycling to improve health

PA Media: The government intends to improve overall health and tackle health disparities through more physical activity

Source – BBC News

Three Yorkshire cities are among 11 places where doctors are to start prescribing walking and cycling to boost mental and physical health. The new Gear Change Plan pilots would be “hugely beneficial” to overall mental and physical health, said the Department for Transport (DfT).

Whilst there is a community health benefit, the move is not entirely altruistic. Walking and cycling minister Trudy Harrison said more cycling and walking would “ease the burden on our NHS”, She also says that it will help with “improving air quality and reducing congestion”. The government-funded plan aims to reduce the number of GP appointments and people’s reliance on medication.

What are the trials?

  • The government is developing the pilots with the NHS and Sport England
  • They include adult cycle training for all abilities, plus more walking groups for exercise and mental health
  • Free bike loans will be offered
  • Wheelchair and mobility scooter-users will also benefit
  • The pilots run until 2025 in Bradford, Leeds, Doncaster, Cumbria, Gateshead, Nottingham, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Plymouth, Cornwall, Bath and NE Somerset

Source: The Department for Health and Department for Transport

The government-funded plan aims to reduce the number of GP appointments and people’s reliance on medication.

The government said the authorities must also improve infrastructure so people felt safe walking and cycling.

Credit: BBC News – Cyclist Chris Boardman is commissioner of National Active Travel, the government agency which improves the UK’s cycling and walking infrastructure

“We need healthier, cheaper and more pleasant ways to get around for everyday trips,” said cyclist Chris Boardman, commissioner of National Active Travel, a government agency set up to improve the UK’s cycling and walking infrastructure.

“Moving more will lead to a healthier nation, a reduced burden on the NHS, less cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and huge cost savings.”

In 2020, Public Health England research found being overweight or obese means greater risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19 and ministers estimated two-thirds of UK adults were overweight.

However, the scheme is not without its doubters. While GPs agree the pilot funding is “great news”, with obesity a risk factor for Type-2 diabetes, cancers, liver and respiratory disease, some say overstretched surgeries cannot take on even more work created by the pilots.

Read the full story here on BBC News.

Food for thought for us here in Australia where our hospitals, doctors and ambulances are reeling under the pressure of dealing with the ongoing effects of Covid and its effect on the whole health system.

And we would also benefit greatly from having a Federal Government funded National Active Travel Agency with a high profile Commissioner like Chris Boardman.

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If Noah was loading up his ark today.

Image credit: ADENE – The Modern Noah’s Ark

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30km/hr here too please!

Reduced speed limits in Tallinn

Yet another city announces 30km/hr.with the beautiful historic city of Tallinn in Estonia joining other enlightened cities like Paris who wan to make their streets safer and ecologically better. The maximum speed allowed will be 30 km/h on a number of inner district roads and 40 km/h on some of the larger streets in the city centre.

New plans for the city will categorise the city’s streets and roads into nine categories as shown.

Deputy mayor Andrei Novikov said a precondition for lowering the speed limit in the city centre is the reconfiguration of the traffic light programmes, but this may take longer than planned due to a shortage of specialists. “Lowering the speed limits without reconfiguring the traffic lights will not achieve the desired result,” he said.

Tallinn is a beautiful historic Hanseatic city. Image credit – The Daily Telegraph

Eliisa Puudersell, CEO of the non-governmental organisation, Elav Tänav, (or Lively Streets – check this link too) welcomed Tallinn’s decision to join the ranks of cities that are reducing the harmful effects of car traffic by lowering speeds.

“Lowering the speed of car traffic will reduce the number and severity of accidents, free up space for other road users, alleviate Tallinn’s noise problem, and make driving more sustainable and smoother,” she said.

Tallinn is also installing 28 new road thresholds to calm traffic and reduce traffic.

Read more here:

All we can say is “WELL DONE TALLINN” because we can’t say that about our cities’ plans for safer roads in Australia. Whilst we are making comparisons, Estonia’s population is only about 1.3 million, and Tallinn is home to nearly 500,000.

If they can do it, why can’t we here in Australia?

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No more lip please

It’s unfortunate that Council Officers are sometimes subjected to a bit of lip when their decisions lead to dissatisfied residents voicing their discontent. So it’s great to report that at Whitehorse Council action has been taken to ensure that in future there will be no more lip where in the past it’s been normal.

Over the last few years the Council has changed its design for the ramps from footpaths down to the road so they are smooth and without the dangerous lip that can trip up those less nimble on their feet, or can make a wheelchair very unsteady or even tip over. It’s been a very positive move.

The problem is that this message didn’t get through to the section of Council that issues permits and drawings for private driveway crossovers, and they are still being built with a lip like the one shown.

Until now that is!

It can be reported that a request has been circulated through Council departments asking that the drawing standards relating to driveway crossover design be changed.

So it’s no more lip from Council in Whitehorse, at least as far as driveways are concerned. Well done Whitehorse.

If you have cause to complain to Council, it’s recommended that you take the ‘lip’ out of it too and be nice. They are just doing their job.

Snap send solve logo

We’ve written before about the benefits of using Snap Send Solve to report things to Council.
Download Snap Send Solve here.

Whitehorse Council encourages people to use Snap Send Solve to send reports about hazardous or other reportable situations encountered while walking or riding. Refer to the Council website.

In most cases it usually does lead to a good result. And not only for Whitehorse Council.

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