Improving health by reducing traffic danger

Issue date: 05 October 2009

A group of cyclists Health experts from the University of the West of England are linking up with the NHS and Bristol City Council in a bid to improve health by reducing traffic danger for people cycling and walking.

The nine-month Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project will look at ways of making pedestrians and cyclists less vulnerable and reduce road deaths and injuries. It will offer a recent graduate a chance to contribute to public health while gaining valuable research experience.

Safer roads for all are a vital part of the NHS Bristol's aim of tackling obesity and Bristol City Council's road safety policy focus on casualty reduction. Each year on Bristol's roads 47 pedestrians and 27 cyclists are killed or seriously injured.

Paul Pilkington from UWE's Institute for Sustainability, Health and Environment (ISHE) said, “One of the challenges facing Primary Care Trusts like NHS Bristol is that in order to address public health issues such as obesity, there needs to be input from key organisations responsible for road safety, planning, transport and housing.

“ISHE is in a unique position to help by offering multi-disciplinary expertise across all these aspects.”

The £42,000 project is one of the first 'Shorter KTPs' to be agreed in the South West. Like the Classic KTPs, it will employ a recent graduate – but in this case the aim is to undertake a feasibility study that could lead to changes in policy. The study will look at measures to reduce road danger in countries such as Sweden and The Netherlands, which have been endorsed by the World Health Organisation, and see how these can be applied as a road danger reduction policy for Bristol.

Councillor Dr Jon Rogers, Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability, Bristol City Council said, “Walking and cycling offer fitness, sustainability and an improved quality of life. This research offers a joined-up approach linking Bristol City Council, UWE and NHS Bristol to reduce casualty numbers and encourage a more active, enjoyable lifestyle.”

Dr Hugh Annett, Director of Public Health for NHS Bristol said, “Increasing physical activity is one of the most effective ways to reduce ill-health and so measures to make walking and cycling more attractive and safer are essential in improving the health of the population.”

This project is receiving financial support from Bristol City Council, NHS Bristol and the national Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme (KTP).

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