The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada recently released her report on the state of public health in the country, and in it, cycling is prominently highlighted as one of the solutions for making Canada a healthier place to live.
The Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, reports that there’s an increasing percentage of Canadians who are obese, living with diabetes, or a mood disorder, and that these health issues are linked to some of the leading causes of death, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease.
One of the ways the report proposes to fight this problem is by encouraging people to be physically active by engaging in “active transportation”, which simply means doing more cycling and walking to get around.
The report doesn’t just mention cycling in passing or as a handy example. The message that it’s time to get more Canadians on their bicycles is clear and explicit throughout the document. It emphasizes the need for infrastructure to make cycling safer, and it points to the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Finland, and Sweden as countries that Canada could emulate in an effort to promote cycling.
It’s worth noting that this is not just some opinion piece. It’s the official report of the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, and it is a highly footnoted document that is based on evidence drawn from numerous studies and research. It also dovetails nicely with a recent study in the UK involving 250,000 people that shows cycling to work can reduce the risk of death from cancer and heart disease by close to 50%.
With all this, and the fact that provincial and federal governments are always clamoring for ways to reduce health care costs, one has to wonder how much longer it is going to take to see serious well funded initiatives to promote cycling in Canada.
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