Healthy active living at Alkimos Beach
Our health and the health of our planet are deeply interrelated
Each year, we add 60 million new cars to the planet. These cars are bad for our health, and the health of our communities.
Road transport generates toxic fumes and smog, and accounts for 13.2 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. But that’s just the beginning.
As our rates of obesity, asthma and heart disease soar, we are beginning to understand how the built environment can either enhance or damage our health. Cars have encouraged an ‘obesogenic environment’ in which two-thirds of Australian adults and a quarter of Australian children are overweight or obese.
VicHealth has found that children and older people living in the state’s growth areas – those most car-dependent – are more likely to be admitted to hospital with respiratory problems.
Our car-dependent cities are also damaging our national economy. Infrastructure Australia says congestion will cost the economy $20.4 billion a year by 2020 unless we take action.
That’s because people are spending so much time in traffic. In fact, the average weekly travel time of workers in our biggest cities increased from three hours and 33 minutes in 2002 to four hours and eight minutes in 2011.
But imagine being able to enjoy a hike, ride a bike trail or even meet friends for a game of netball without jumping in the car first? Residents of Alkimos Beach, Australia’s first 6 Star Green Star – Communities residential development, enjoy all of this and more, right on their doorsteps. Each of the 2,000 homes on site is located within 200 metres of a park. Playgrounds, sporting fields, environmental corridors, bushland and foreshore reserves were all incorporated into the development at the outset. “I love living here,” says resident Susan Butler “I have a beautiful park opposite with birds singing and lovely trees and shrubs. The entry to our estate is amazing, as is the church. How lucky am I?” Representing ‘World Leadership,’ Alkimos Beach was designed and built to promote active lifestyles. Children and parents can meet and make new friends at the onsite sports ovals, netball courts and recreational areas. And developer Lendlease is contributing $4,000 per lot to the City of Wanneroo to help build community facilities – including a $7 million surf lifesaving club and other facilities that promote healthy living.
Our health and the health of our planet are deeply interrelated. By sitting in our cars, we not only pollute the environment, but we throw our time, money and lives away on the highway. Both problems can be addressed by a single solution – and that is to create places that help people enjoy healthy, active living.