Photo: Chris Brown, Cardiff Friends of the Earth
A three-year project by Sustrans at Welsh hospitals has cut car use as staff cycle, walk or car-share instead. At some hospitals single-occupancy car use has fallen by 15 percent.
Regular exercise such as cycling and walking improves the health of staff and reduces absenteeism and sickness rates. It also improves the hospital environment for staff, patients and visitors.
The size of the hospital site limits the amount of parking spaces available. Cutting car use saves hospitals money on parking and staffing costs. It also frees up space for new buildings.
Before the project started, 78 percent of NHS staff in Wales traveled to work alone in their cars. Sustrans found a large proportion of staff lived within five miles of their hospital workplace. This made staff travelling by other methods possible.
Sustrans estimate that single car occupancy reduced at UHW by 8 percent and at Velindre Hospital by 15 percent. This has saved £163,000 in the reduced need for car parking.
Cycling rates have almost trebled at the University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff as a result of the project.
The Sustrans NHS Wales Sustainable Travel act ion worked with 12 hospitals. They held cycle training and bike maintenance sessions for hospital staff, created walking and cycling maps and improved the sign-posting to hospitals along walking and cycling routes.
Some staff said while they are not able to cycle to work because of the distance travelled or because they need the car for work, they are cycling more in their own time.
A Department of Health study found that regular physical activity reduces the risk of many chronic conditions including coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, mental health problems and musculoskeletal conditions.
Cardiff Friends of the Earth congratulate Sustrans on their achievement. We know they will continue to work not only with hospitals, but in the wider community to cut car use.