public health

Cycling and its socioeconomic benefits

Advantages and disadvantages

A cost-benefit analysis often forms the basis for political decision making prior to traffic investments. Cost-benefit analyses involve assigning a monetary value to the advantages and disadvantages of a construction project. This makes it possible to weigh the benefits (e.g. reduced travel times and reduced pollution) against the disadvantages (e.g. construction costs and noise).

Cycle projects

Cycling children are healthy children; healthy children are happy children

The number of lifestyle-related diseases is on the rise. However, socio-economic studies show that there is a lot to be gained by learning healthy transport habits from an early age—both in terms of fitness ratings and good spirits.

By Malene Kofod Nielsen, COWI, and Connie Juel Clausen, Municipality of Odense

Scottish obesity strategy shows commitment to cycling

Scotland has one of the highest levels of obesity in OECD countries with over a million adults and over 150,000 children obese. This is predicted to worsen with adult obesity levels reaching over 40% by 2030. Overweight and obesity brings with it a risk of disease and a cost to society that will directly impact on our ability to achieve sustainable economic growth. This situation is avoidable.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come - New Opportunities for Health Impact Assessment in New Zealand Public Policy and Planning


New opportunities for Health Impact Assessment in New Zealand public policy and planning

This publication from the New Zealand
Public Health Advisory Committee (PHAC) encourages policy makers to
carry out a health impact assessment (HIA) as a routine part of policy
making. It discusses what health impacts are, the benefits of HIA, what
the PHAC has learned from its work on HIA, describes some HIA case
studies, and considers what is needed to make HIA a routine part of
policy making in New Zealand.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come
discusses how good health and wellbeing of the population is largely a
product of the settings in which people live, work and play. This means
that improving the health and wellbeing of the population requires more
than the provision of health care services. It requires new ways of
working together with new approaches and new tools.

Public policies aim to benefit the whole
population but can result in unintended negative effects on health and
wellbeing, including the widening of health disparities. Health Impact
Assessment (HIA) is used to assist in reducing health inequalities
through planning and policy-making processes.

HIA is a formal process that aims to ensure
public policies, programmes and plans enhance the potentially
beneficial effects on health and wellbeing and reduce or mitigate the
potential harm with innovative solutions. Although relatively new in
New Zealand, it is a well-established approach internationally.

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The role of public policies in promoting the safety, convenience & popularity of bicycling

In his recent article in this journal, Heath Maddox questions the potential of public policies to encourage bicycling (Maddox, 2001). In particular, he contests my earlier finding that public policies were essential for permitting the dramatic growth in bicycling in Germany from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s (Pucher, 1997). Although he provides no empirical evidence of his own, Maddox summarises the views of a few German ‘experts’ he selected. On the basis of that selective literature review, Maddox draws the conclusion that the bicycling boom in Germany occurred, at best, independently of supportive public policies and, at worst, in spite of public policies that supposedly hindered bicycling.