Transportation comes in many forms and influences our lives in many ways. As the citizens of Gwinnett County begin to ponder how they will vote on the March 19th transit referendum, one aspect to consider is how transportation options can directly and indirectly affect the health and well-being of the community.
Expanding the availability of, safety for, and access to a variety of transportation options has the potential to save lives by preventing chronic diseases, reducing and preventing motor-vehicle-related injury and deaths, improving environmental health, enhancing access to medical care and healthy food while stimulating economic development, and ensuring access for all people.
Studies show that lack of access to transportation reduces health care utilization among children, seniors, low-income people, and people with disabilities. One survey found that 4-percent of U.S. children (3.6 million in total) either missed a scheduled health care visit or did not schedule a visit during the preceding year because of transportation restrictions.
While the majority of the population here in Gwinnett County has ready access to and typically use private automobiles to access health care and other community services, there also is a significant segment of the population that either does not have access to a personal automobile or is not currently capable of driving. This can limit their access to health care, but it has greater health implications because it can also limit access to nutrition and other community services, as well as involvement in social activities. Limiting this access deprives people of the opportunity to make the choices that allow them to live a long, healthy life, regardless of their age, income, education or ethnic background.
Each day, until the March 19th transit referendum, the Gwinnett Coalition will share information through its social media outlets illustrating how public health improvements are among the largest benefits provided by high quality public transit.