Sun, 22 May 2022

SYDNEY, May 11 (Xinhua) -- A new report from Australia's RMIT University has assessed cities around the world for their walkability and transport access, and researchers said that Australia's major capitals fail to stack up.

The report, published in Lancet Global Health and released to the public on Wednesday, showed how some major Australian cities, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney, failed to meet health and sustainability thresholds due to their car-centric layout and poor access to public transport.

Lead researcher, Distinguished Professor Billie Giles-Corti said the report was a wake-up call for Australia's urban design standards.

"Despite positive rhetoric about health, sustainability and liveability, many cities we studied -- including in Australia -- did not have adequate policies to promote healthy and sustainable lifestyles," she said.

The study is one of the first comprehensive assessments of the relationship between city planning and citizen health. It made assessments of 25 cities across the globe based on public transport and food, walkability, and city density.

Only 37 percent to 44 percent of the population in the three Australian cities included in the study had access to above average walkability.

This pales in comparison to other cities across the globe: 94 percent of residents in Sao Paulo, Brazil, had access to above-average walkability; 92 percent in Chennai, India; and 87 percent in Mexico City.

Urban sprawl and low-density urban planning have led to an explosion in car ownership in Australia.

A census on car ownership from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that as of January 2021, there were 20.1 million registered cars in Australia, meaning that the average household had almost two cars.

Giles-Corti said urgent policy reform was needed to help rebuild healthier and more sustainable cities.

"Without good urban policies, we can't deliver healthy and sustainable cities," she said. "Cities should boast neighbourhoods where people can live locally, walk and cycle and have access to amenities they need for daily living."

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