UC Science Radio: Episode 1

Prof Simon Kingham: Designing cities for better health

UC Science Radio podcast Episode 1 web image

Dr Simon Kingham talks about the impact of city spaces on our mental health, why cycleways are thriving in Christchurch, and his role as Chief Science Advisor for the Ministry of Transport, on UC Science's brand new podcast.

Listen on Spotify | Stitcher | Youtube | Apple Podcasts

In this episode

08:28 One of the things I'm passionate about, is designing communities so that they are better for health and wellbeing.

So, for instance, we know that people like living in neighborhoods that are green, where the traffic is slower and there's less of it. They like living in neighborhoods where they can walk to parks and whether shops nearby. A lot of people actually don't particularly choose or enjoy driving long distances to places: they do it because they don't have a choice. When you give people good public transport and you provide good infrastructure and good places for people to walk and cycle, they actually like doing that.

09:27 If we could create a society where we gave people those choices, we'd see better community, we’d see improved mental health and wellbeing, we'd see increased physical activity.

13:39 As you put more cycleways in, more people cycle. Because people cycle in the area where the cycleways are, so we need to keep doing them. And we're starting to see that happen, and we're transforming the city. In the central city, now we have reduced traffic speeds, which helps as well. [...] We are seeing a change in the way people are traveling.

16:47 There's a whole range of science where you can change behaviours, you can impact policy, you can advise people. I think it all comes down to partly your personality, but also what you feel you want to do.


Read a transcript of the full interview.

Next episode

Meet our speakers

Simon Kingham

Simon Kingham

Dr Simon Kingham is a Professor in Geography and Chief Science Advisor for the Ministry of Transport.  Simon’s research focuses on the impact of urban environments on our health and wellbeing. He’s particularly interested in the relationship between our health and the way we travel to work or school–whether it’s driving, biking, walking or public transport.

Simon uses GIS mapping and public health data to understand why we use the transport we do and how to help people make healthier, more sustainable choices.

Learn more about Simon: Research profile | Twitter

Molly Magid

Molly Magid

Molly Magid is an MSc student at UC. A recent graduate of Brown University, Molly is working on research in conservation genomics with Associate Professor Tammy Steeves from the School of Biological Sciences. Molly is passionate about finding ways to communicate science to the public in a clear, novel, and engaging ways. Most recently, Molly worked as the lead student producer on the podcast Possibly, which answers listener's questions about sustainability using relevant science research.