"I think we have to talk about how we’re going to redevelop and redesign our cities so they are walkable and greener and more sustainable and livable." –- Robert Bullard, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University, in Ensia
Transportation decisions take place upstream, impacting the way we get around and our day-to-day lives. This plays a large role on our health downstream. We all use various ways to get to work or school, to access healthy foods and to do countless other things every day. Yet poor transportation decisions and planning can negatively impact health and create health inequities.
Climate change can worsen the negative health impacts of transportation. For example, higher temperatures are linked to respiratory problems, which can be compounded by build-up of vehicular emissions and other types of air pollution. Higher temperatures can also affect our roadways, as potholes and rutting may be created on pavement that softens and swells.
Vulnerable populations such as children, low-income communities and the elderly are more vulnerable to health effects of climate change. The transportation and the public health sectors must work together to reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled, ease congestion, and lower traffic-related air pollution by providing alternative safe active transportation options and access to public transit.
The way we design and build our communities affects our physical and mental health. When communities have plenty of walkable sidewalks and bike-friendly routes for kids to take to school, students are more active. When people can walk or roll where they need to go, car traffic decreases, and that can improve air quality and respiratory health.
Transportation and healthy community design advancements must ensure justice. All people deserve access to green spaces and places to walk, bike and roll safely. Communities that are more walkable, for example, are also more likely to have reduced rates of diabetes. Communities designed with health in mind have potential to reduce obesity, heart disease risk, traffic injuries and even crime.
Download the Transportation and Healthy Community Design Social Media Toolkit (PDF).
View the recorded webinar Climate Changes Health: Community Design and Transportation.
(*blog posts only represent the views of the author)
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CLIMATE CHANGE AND HEALTH SPOTLIGHTS