Car no longer the favourable option to get around town: survey

Those living in the Royal City are opting for a bus, a bike or their own two feet, instead of a car, to get around town, according to a new survey.

The report, titled “My Health My Community,” asked 33,000 respondents from across Metro Vancouver questions about their healthy behaviours.

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"It gives us a sense of where we're at, where we're doing relatively well, and where we think our efforts have made some gains," said Dr. Lisa Mu, medical health officer with Fraser Health.

More than half of New Westminster respondents reported they don't use a car as their main mode of transportation (which is 19 per cent lower than the Fraser Health average), and around one in four said they walk or cycle to run errands.

"I think that speaks to land-use planning and transportation planning,” Mu told the Record. "It's a denser city; things are located a little more closer together, and they have access to public transit facilities, but I think also the city itself has been really careful when they consider their planning."

There’s always room for improvement, she added, including getting more exercise and having a balanced diet. Forty-five per cent of New West dwellers said they maintain 150 minutes or more of recommended weekly physical activity, while less than a quarter said they eat five or more servings of fruits and veggies a day. 

When it comes to electronic devices, more than half of those who filled out the New West questionnaire reported they're in front of a screen for two hours or more every day.

"It is higher than the average, but I would say, overall, they're probably all high," Mu said. "What's the benchmark or ideal? The ideal is probably zero."

When it comes to lighting up, 14 per cent reported they smoke on a daily or occasional basis, and 32 per cent said they have been exposed to second-hand smoke in public places. 

This “granular data” collected at the municipal level, she noted, will come in handy during city planning.

“This is a much more representative sample than a lot of the other data that is available,” Mu said. “It's important to keep in mind the survey is not a report card, rather a snapshot in time."

To view the complete report – the largest regional health survey ever conducted in B.C. – visit www.myhealthmycommunity.org.

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