We all use our car a little more during the winter months, but with the weather warming up, now is a great time to leave the car at home and get around by foot, bike or public transport. These modes of travel are often referred to as ‘active travel’ as they involve an element of physical activity. Active travel is a great way to get around, especially for short or local trips. But, if you need a little more convincing that active travel is for you, here are five reasons why….
1. You’ll be healthier
We all need to exercise to stay fit and healthy. The Heart Foundation says that regular physical activity reduces your chances of having a heart attack or developing heart disease as well as helping to control high blood pressure, cholesterol and your weight. It’s a worrying statistics, but in Australia only 33% of men and 29% of women do the recommended daily activity of at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day (ABS, 2011).
But it’s not all bad news. A 2014 study by Beavis and Moodie found that active travel significantly increases a person’s ability to reach the minimum requirements for daily exercise. The results showed that those using a private vehicle averaged only 10 minutes of active travel daily compared to 35 minutes for public transport users and 38 minutes for both walkers and cyclists. Overall, adequate daily physical activity was achieved through active transport for 13% of those using a private vehicle, 60% of those catching public transport, 58% of walkers and 80% of cyclists.
2. You’ll be greener
Although technology is certainly improving the vehicle emissions of new cars, there’s no denying that our private vehicles have an impact on the environment. Statistics from the Greenhouse Gas Inventory show that passenger cars are responsible for more than half of all transport sector emissions in Australia. These emissions contribute to poor air and water quality, greenhouse gases, ozone depletion and the use of natural resources. There’s one simple way you can reduce your personal transport emissions that doesn’t mean going out and buying a new energy efficient or electric vehicle – use your car less.
3. You’ll be wealthier
We all know that cars are expensive to own and run. RACV’s 2016 Vehicle Operating Costs has calculated the average annual cost of owning a small car to be $8823. A 2015 report by the Australasian Railway Association looked at the potential cost savings of catching public transport to work in the CBD. The study looked at a variety of scenarios, but in all cases there were significant cost savings when leaving the car at home and catching public transport. The savings differed based on the size of the vehicle and the distance needed to travel but, on average, those who left their car at home and caught public transport to work could potentially save $1,725 a year.
4. You’ll be happier
Driving can be a very stressful activity, especially when in traffic congestion or wet weather conditions. NRMA’s BusinessWise congestion survey found that over 50% of small businesses in NSW and the ACT said that traffic congestion had an effect on their employees stress levels. Physical activity actually does the opposite of this. Research suggests that regular exercise improves your mood, feeling of wellbeing and can help manage stress (Victorian Department of Health and Human Development, 2016). In our biennial On Track survey, 63% of respondents said they catch a train because it less stressful than driving and 43% said that the train gives them time to relax, work, read and listen to music.
5. You may even have more time up your sleeve
The traffic in Melbourne can be all over the place – a drive that usually takes 10 minutes can easily blow out to a 30 minute trip if done at a different time or on another day of the week. VicRoads slow roads data show that some inner city roads with 60km/h speed limits travel at less than 10km/h during peak times. Active travel can take the uncertainty away from travel times as modes such as cycling and walking don’t have these same inconsistencies. Public transport can also be quicker than the car too. 40% of the On Track survey respondents said they choose to catch a train because it’s faster. Although, this does depend on where you live and where you’re going.
Written by Dominique Torpy, Public Transport and Mobility Officer September 07, 2016