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Delhi needs a major change in city’s ‘design’ to keep citizens healthy

Delhi needs a major change in city’s ‘design’ to keep citizens healthy

Case studies in major cities across the world including London, Boston and New Delhi suggest that changes to city design and transport can have "significant" impact on health including reductions in non-communicable diseases which India is presently reeling under.

A new Series, published in 'The Lancet' quantifies the health gains that could be achieved if cities incentivised a shift from private car use to cycling and walking and promoted a compact city model.

"These changes could achieve significant reductions in non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well as increasing physical activity and reducing pollution.

"Importantly, in cities with high levels of private car use such as Melbourne, London and Boston, promoting walking and cycling must be matched by improvements to infrastructure that separate motorised transport to protect cyclists and pedestrians from road injuries," the authors said.

The new series on urban design, transport and health was led by the University of Melbourne (Australia) and the University of California, San Diego (USA).

The study said that over half of the world's population live in cities and rapid urbanisation is only expected to increase in the coming years, as per a news agency.

"By 2050, large cities in the USA, China and India are predicted to see their populations increase by 33 per cent, 38 per cent and 96 per cent respectively. Population growth in cities means increasing demands on transport systems," it said.

It said that private car use has increased dramatically in Brazil, China and India leading to declines in physical activity, increases in air pollution and increased rates of road death and serious injury, all of which combine to increase overall levels of chronic disease and injury.

Series lead Professor Mark Stevenson of University of Melbourne designed a 'compact cities model' where land-use density was increased by 30 per cent, average distance to public transport reduced by 30 per cent and diversity of land-use increased by 30 per cent, reports the news agency.

The model was applied to six cities - Melbourne, London, Boston, Sao Paulo, Copenhagen and Delhi.

Health gains were predicted in all cities with the greatest effect on reducing rates of cardiovascular disease while all cities saw increases in physical activity and reductions in air pollution from transport emissions.


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