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Rep. Billig introduces healthy transportation bill
Today Rep. Andy Billig (D-Spokane) introduced legislation to help build healthy and livable communities.
The bill, HB2370, adds a health policy goal to the existing transportation goals. The goals direct the planning and performance of the state department of transportation, and will lead Washington to build a transportation system that generates local prosperity, protects our most vulnerable citizens, prevents chronic disease and reduces obesity and health care costs. Transportation policies impact the health status of a community, so transportation decisions informed by health data can improve health and safety and reduce preventable medical care costs.
“Transportation decisions have a direct effect on our health, and healthy planning within our transportation system is one of the most cost-effective ways to lower health care costs and improve the quality of life in our state,” said Rep. Billig. “An unintentional consequence of past decisions is that we have made healthy transportation choices more difficult. We deserve a safe, effective transportation system that makes healthy options easy.”
In creating a public health priority for transportation policy, considerations such as how existing systems and investments affect health status will influence future decisions. Wise investments in healthy transportation choices will save millions of dollars in future health care costs.
“Over the years, our insulated focus on motorized transportation has also contributed to skyrocketing rates of obesity in Washington and all the damaging costs associated with it,” said Victor Colman, Director of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition. “This bill gets us on a path to build a healthier Washington from a new vantage point while also developing a more efficient transportation system.”
The proposed legislation will help ensure that Washington’s transportation systems connect people to where they live, learn, work, shop and play by providing safe and convenient transportation choices. A new health priority will also help the state develop solutions that can help achieve social and economic equity in all communities with policies that create public and non-motorized transportation options for transit-dependent and low-income communities.
“As a nurse practitioner, I see firsthand the negative impacts when we fail to consider health in our transportation decisions,” said Kevin Carrabine, a nurse practitioner at the UW. “We can build a transportation system that improves our health and saves us money if we set the right goals.”