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New roads should not prioritise cars, says health watchdog.

CARS should not be given priority when roads are built or upgraded, according to the UK's health watchdog.

Pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users should instead be the prime consideration for planners, draft guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) say.

The proposal aims to increase the amount of physical activity in people's day-to-day lives.

Planners should also aim to provide pavements with bumps and grooves as well as anti-glare surfaces, to help those with visual impairments.

Nice deputy chief executive Professor Gillian Leng said: "Getting people to be more physically active by increasing the amount they walk or cycle has the potential to benefit both the individual and the health system.

"As a society, we are facing a looming Type 2 diabetes crisis, which is in part caused by people not exercising enough.

"We need more people to change their lifestyle and to take more exercise.

"People can feel less safe when they walk or cycle compared with when they drive. We've got to change this.

"So asking planners to prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and those who use public transport when roads are built or upgraded can ensure they are safe, attractive and designed to encourage people to get out from behind their wheel."

Obesity is estimated to affect one in four adults and one in every five children aged 10-11.

Physical inactivity is responsible for one in six deaths and is believed to cost the UK PS7.4bn each year, including PS900m to the NHS.

Joe Irvin, chief executive of everyday walking charity Living Streets, said: "For decades our towns and cities have been built to prioritise motor vehicles, resulting in unhealthy air, congested roads and a decline in people walking everyday journeys.

"The better planning that Nice is suggesting is absolutely necessary. Those who are the most vulnerable - children and older people - are currently suffering the most from bad air, unhealthy lifestyles and social isolation.

"It's time that towns and cities were built for everyone - first and foremost for those on foot. Placing key services like schools, GP surgeries and bus stops within walking distance is vital.

"More people getting out and walking everyday journeys, such as to work or school, will make us a healthier country."

A public consultation on the draft guidelines from Nice will run until February 1.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 4, 2019
Words:387
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