The Killer Commute

CNN recently reported what many more specialized publications have been saying for a long time: commuting translates to health problems. Those problems include increased stress, emotional strain and these issues:

2012 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the farther people commute by vehicle, the higher their blood pressure and body mass index is likely to be. Also, the farther the commute, the less physical activity the person was likely to get.

In Provo, the mean travel time to work is 16.6 minutes, which is lower than the state average of 21.2 minutes. Provo is also a good place to walk to work. These characteristics should help create a healthier community.

Commuting has detrimental effects on health. Provo has relatively low commute times, though recent projects could change that.

And yet Provo and other Wasatch Front cities have just added massive freeway infrastructure which encourages more driving. In fact, after the I15 expansion project I expect to see an increase in the total number of commuting hours because more people will have incentives to drive. And eventually, the marginal time savings from less congestion — which supposedly results from a widened freeway — will even be cancelled out by induced demand for more road space.

In other words, despite a mountain of evidence that long commutes are bad we’re pursuing projects that will put more people on the road and eventually keep them there longer. Clearly, that’s a recipe for disaster.

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Filed under commuting, driving

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