Saskatchewan’s doctors endorse protected bike lanes as a means to healthier lifestyles
Saskatchewan’s doctors support the City of Saskatoon’s Active Transportation Plan, and the notion of protected bike lanes, as a means toward building a healthier community.
On June 20, the City of Saskatoon’s governance and priorities committee will consider a new configuration for protected downtown bike lanes and a plan for improved transit service.
Part of the mandate of the Saskatchewan Medical Association is the promotion of healthier communities. Physicians know that a physically active life leads to a healthier life, and systemic measures that encourage more active living are tremendously helpful to patients.
“As a family physician in Saskatoon I spend much of my day trying to motivate patients to be more active,” said Dr. John Dosman. “There are mountains of evidence showing just how much being more physically active, and being outdoors, can improve my patients’ physical and mental health. Chronic diseases that affect a large number of Saskatonians such as diabetes, anxiety, heart disease, osteoarthritis, depression, and chronic lung disease all have much better outcomes if people can become more active in their daily lives.”
Finding ways to address some of these chronic diseases not only benefits patients, but will lessen the amount spent on health care in the provincial budget, Dr. Dosman noted.
He said patients tell him the barriers to leading more active lives are time and the feeling that they are not safe on the streets.
“The city's Active Transportation Plan, which included plans for protected bike infrastructure, hopefully addresses both of these to some degree,” said Dr. Dosman, an avid cyclist who rides his bike every day to work.
“In terms of time, if someone can simply walk or cycle as part of their normal commuting to work, to the coffee shop, to meet friends for supper, or to the local store to pick up that loaf of bread, then they are getting exercise while doing their normal day-to-day stuff,” he said. “When I bring up cycling to my patients many say they won't cycle through downtown because they don't feel safe biking in traffic, or if they do they stay on the sidewalk and take the risk of a ticket.”
Dr. Dosman presented the following resolution at the SMA’s 2018 Spring Representative Assembly, which was unanimously approved by the physician delegates:
“Be it resolved that the SMA draft a letter to Saskatoon City Council expressing our support for the health and safety benefits of the Active Transportation Plan, which includes a protected downtown cycling network.”
(Photo: Dr. John Dosman speaks to the media about protected bike lanes on June 19, 2018.)