Key messages

  • Transport choices affect our health and the health of our environment.
  • 11 per cent of the Victorian hospital and public health environmental impact is linked to transport.

Transport choices affect our health and the health of our environment.

In Australia it is estimated that, in a single year, air pollution from motor vehicles causes between 900 and 2,000 early deaths and between 900 and 4,500 cases of bronchitis, cardiovascular and respiratory disease, costing between $1.5 and $3.8 billion.

Environmental impact of transport

The ecological footprint pilot found that 11 per cent of the Victorian hospital and public health environmental impact is linked to transport. The NHS in the UK undertook a similar study, which found that 5 per cent of all vehicle trips in England are related to NHS transport, which is responsible for 18 per cent of the NHS carbon footprint.

Benefits of sustainable and active transport

Reducing car usage in favour of sustainable forms of transport improves the health of both humans and the environment.

Sustainable modes of transport include walking, cycling, public transport and carpooling. Teleworking also reduces the need for travel.

The benefits include:

  • reducing transport emissions such as local pollution and greenhouse gases
  • providing a more pleasant environment around the hospital and increasing the walkability of an area
  • promoting a healthy workplace and workforce
  • reducing local health impacts from vehicle emissions
  • attracting staff
  • reducing carparking demand and associated costs
  • reducing social inequalities regarding access to health services
  • better health outcomes for people using active transport (for example, walking, cycling, public transport) through increased physical activity
  • greater social connectedness for participants
  • improved neighbourhood liveability by reduced local traffic impacts
  • reducing the health impacts related to air pollution
  • reduced costs for staff, patients and visitors.

Reducing transport-related environmental impacts

There are a number of actions organisations can take to reduce travel-related environmental impacts.

For work-related travel:

  • Promote and encourage the use of videoconferencing.
  • Promote and encourage the use of public transport, walking and cycling (for example, by providing easy access to tickets, maps and information about public transport, cycling and walking options).
  • Provide a bicycle pool and end-of-trip facilities.
  • Review the vehicle mix of fleet cars (for example, LPG, hybrid, four-cylinder).
  • Offset vehicle carbon emissions.
  • Encourage staff to use fuel-efficient cars for medium-distance travel.
  • Promote driving techniques that reduce fuel use.
  • Work collaboratively with staff to identify and address barriers to sustainable transport.

For commuting:

  • Encourage and support staff by becoming a cycle-friendly workplace.
  • Provide information on sustainable transport options.
  • Provide discounted transport tickets through a commuter club.
  • Encourage walking where feasible.
  • Provide rewards and incentives for people using sustainable forms of transport.
  • Take part in sustainable transport events, such as Ride to Work Day and Walktober.
  • Work collaboratively with staff to identify and address barriers to sustainable transport.

For patients and visitors:

  • Provide and prioritise information to patients and visitors on sustainable transport options when sending out appointments and via the health service website.
  • Provide services locally where possible, including telemedicine if clinical practices make this possible.
  • Work collaboratively with patients and staff to identify and address barriers to sustainable transport.

For suppliers:

  • Work with suppliers to consolidate deliveries where possible.
  • Ask suppliers about their environmental practices relating to transport when tendering.

Cycle-friendly workplaces

Encouraging staff to cycle improves staff health, reduces the impact on the environment and can provide a number of financial benefits including:

  • healthier staff and fewer sick days
  • improved morale and staff productivity
  • reductions in carparking demand.

The Bicycle Network has resources available to assist workplaces to create bicycle-friendly workplaces.

Sustainable transport in capital works

The Sustainability in healthcare capital works - standard practice initiatives (July 2010) include standard practice items for sustainable transport options.

Downloads