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From The Province:

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Study finds transportation preferences correlated with healthy habits

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A survey of 28,000 Metro Vancouver residents indicates people who use active transportation such as walking, biking and transit are healthier and have more positive lifestyle attributes.

The My Health, My Community study, which also revealed car drivers with long commute times have a lower sense of community belonging, will be the focus of a lecture Thursday at Simon Fraser University’s Segal School of Business by principal investigator Dr. Jat Sandhu.

The conclusions are particularly timely because the region is in the midst of a plebiscite on whether to increase provincial sales tax by 0.5 per cent to raise an extra $250 million annually for transit and transportation in the region.

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Which means that the Fraser Institute must be contrarian:

Just using active transportation doesn’t necessarily translate into better health, contends Dr. Kenneth Green of the Fraser Institute.

Green is a senior director of energy and natural resources for the Canadian public policy and research institute, but he’s also worked on transit and transportation.

“They’re clearly trying to create the impression that it’s the active transportation — things like transit, biking, walking — that leads to these better health outcomes,” said Green from his home in Calgary, where he takes a bus to his office because he doesn’t have a car.

“What they don’t account for is these are correlations, of course, not necessarily causation,” he said,

Green said the data collected doesn’t indicate whether the healthier people simply “self-selected” active transit, instead of the transit changing the quality of their life.

Sandhu, who is in the School of Population and Public Health at University of B. C., doesn’t disagree that the results are correlational.

But Sandhu pointed out that data collected from the 93-item questionnaire indicates active transportation users have more “positive lifestyle attributes” — habits such as eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, 30 minutes of walking daily, 150-plus minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity a week, and not smoking.

Another conclusion of the study is that car users with longer commutes have a lower sense of “community belonging” — whether the community is ethnic, social or geographic.

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Hear for yourself:

Equity, Opportunity and Good Health: How Transportation Affects the Essential Qualities of Life In Metro Vancouver

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Thursday, April 30
7:30–9 pm
Room 1200, SFU Segal School of Business, 500 Granville Street
Free, but reservations are required Reserve.