At one stroke, you have people kept distanced during transport, and making them healthier in the long term – not to mention more likely to be able to see off respiratory infections like Covid-19.
But one of the many effects of the pandemic has been falls in emission levels in many cities, as cars stay at home. Some have even speculated that in some countries, the death toll from coronavirus could be significantly offset by fewer people dying as a result of air pollution.Earlier this week, a group of nearly 50 academics and experts on public health and transport wrote a letter, urging ministers to not discourage walking and cycling amid the pandemic, noting their vital importance in the wider public health issue of combating inactivity.
During any lockdown, “all of our existing social and health risks do not simply go away”, they wrote.
The letter added: “In a rapidly escalating situation, policy could be adopted that largely confines the general asymptomatic population to their homes, potentially for some time. Confinement, sometimes in overcrowded accommodation with little or no private green space, and particularly during times of anxiety has health risks.”
But the longer-term,normalised health conseqiuences of people living excessively inactive and sedentary lives – everything from type 2 diabetes to cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer – is one of the leading causes of early death around the world, every year.