News & Insights

Why Cardno's Traffic Planner is finding more ways to move

There is no denying that transport and health are inextricably linked, and the more we move, the healthier we are.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), promoting healthy and sustainable transport options prevents the negative effects of modern day transport patterns on human health, such as those caused by physical inactivity.

Studies have shown that population patterns of physical activity are influenced by physical and built environments, with features of the built environment such as low residential density and disconnected street networks are progressively linked to lower levels of physical activity.

Cardno's Senior Transport Planner, Alix Oakes said that you don't have to look hard to find research which points to health issues resulting from sedentary lifestyle choices, including inactive transport modes.

Traffic Planner Alix Oakes

Senior Traffic Planner Alix Oakes from Perth, Western Australia

"Walking, cycling, and even using public transport where you have to walk to, from and in between stops considerably increases our daily physical activity levels," she said.

"Being outside amongst nature and other people in the community also has significant positive impacts on our social and mental health. Travelling by car reduces the chance of experiencing these benefits, and the oversupply of parking has a detrimental impact on our built environments and surrounding networks."

In November this year, Alix will fly to Melbourne to deliver a presentation on the impact of parking supply restrictions and influences of sedentary transport behaviour at the International Conference on Transport and Health (ICTH).

The presentation will bring emphasis to her abstract submission, which focuses on reducing the demand of parking at a major health and medical campus in Perth, Western Australia.

For a number of years, Alix and her traffic and transport team have been collecting travel data to monitor the travel behaviour associated with the campus and find ways in which sustainable and active transport modes can be utilised.

Alix said her team found the link between the provision of parking and people travelling by car was not at all surprising, however the evidence of impactful behaviours was very strong.

"Too often we try to encourage people to 'do the right thing' and hope they base their travel decisions on the bigger picture. Unpopular and as difficult as it might be, sometimes you need to resort to the carrot and stick approach," she said.

"The overarching aim of our work in the team is to lessen the impact of transport on people and the environment. I believe the work is undoubtedly having a positive impact on public health issues."

Regional Manager of Western Australia and Northern Territory, Marino Evangelisti, said our focus in the Transport sector is to balance the complexity of traffic needs whilst assisting our stakeholders in delivering and maintaining more livable, workable spaces to support sustainable development.

"As a business we are committed to providing sustainable solutions in everything we do and I am proud of Alix for her dedication and leadership she has demonstrated on this project," he said.

Alix's paper is the second highest scoring practitioner abstract submission at ICTH and she will be amongst a select few high-scoring abstract winners who will attend a special luncheon planned in their honour on Friday 8 November.

"I am looking forward to hearing from other professionals about work in this space, and bringing this knowledge back to our Cardno team for application in our current projects," she said.

Alix Oakes Senior Traffic Planner

ICTH is the only conference in a world-wide market fully dedicated to transport systems and health impacts.

The convention brings together policy-makers, practitioners, and academics from multiple disciplines and professional sectors involved in transport planning and engineering, public health, urban planning, spatial and architectural design, environmental planning and economics from across the globe.