Shifting to Better Health!

There’s been growing interest in rapid transit since Mayor Matt Brown announced London’s new Shift initiative during his State of the City address. The process to re-imagine how people move from one place to another in our City is underway, and we’re all being asked to contribute our thoughts and ideas.

For those of us who work in Public Health, shifting how we think about public transit means recognizing that public transit can improve our city, our health and our environment.

Active transportation is any human-powered means of getting from one place to another, including cycling and walking to work, school, to do errands and even to the bus stop. It is an important part of public transit. Adults who walk or cycle to work are significantly more likely to have lower body mass indexes (BMIs), smaller waist circumferences, and higher fitness levels.

A transformed public transit system, including rapid transit, will encourage more people to leave their vehicles at home in favour of a quick, hassle-free and low-stress way to get where they’re going. As the number of riders grow, so too will the number of people being physically active getting to and from the nearest rapid transit stop. And being more physically active and less stressed can lead to an improved sense of mental health.

A quick and efficient public transit system will also bring much needed relief from the ever-growing number of vehicles that are stretching London’s road network to its limits. This is where we see additional physical activity and environmental opportunities. Safety and pollution are among the considerations for many Londoners who might otherwise ride their bikes. Fewer cars and vans on local roads will help get people to use pedal power to reach their destination.

Making our public transit system better will create more opportunities to be physically active, improve air quality, increase safety, reduce stress, and relieve traffic congestion. The Shift initiative is good for health and it is part of making our city an even better place to live, play and work.

I’m ready to shift our health, how about you?


Dr. Christopher Mackie
Medical Officer of Health and CEO
Middlesex-London Health Unit