Transportation and Health

Three female pedestrians crossing a street.

Transportation decisions that take place upstream affect our lives 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 can harm health and are not always fair across all communities.

For example, communities near a highway or major roadway are often low-income and communities of color. Living near a highway or major roadway increases a person's exposure to traffic-related air pollution. Traffic-related air pollution is linked to respiratory conditions like wheezing and decreased lung functioning and also cardiovascular disease. Long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution is linked to childhood asthma.

APHA speaks out for transportation policy that improves, rather than hinders, public health. We believe in working with the transportation sector to create equitable and healthy transportation policies. 

Check out our two latest Transportation and Health Stories from the Field showing how transportation and health agencies collaborate together to support active living for everyone:

  • Planning with a Public Health Focus- Connecting the Dots in the East Central Region of Wisconsin (PDF) — Learn how the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission works with public health departments and nonprofit partners to identify shared values to support active living and integrate public health into transportation plans. 
  • Minnesota Health and Transportation- Partners for Change (PDF) — Learn how Minnesota Department of Transportation and Department of Health have partnered together over the years to advance health equity through such initiatives as health impact assessments and Minnesota Walks, one of the first statewide pedestrian planning frameworks in the country that recognizes health and walking as transportation planning priorities. 

Building Healthy and Prosperous Communities: How Metro Areas are Building More and Better Bicycling and Walking Projects

Over the last two years, Transportation for America, in conjunction with the APHA, worked with metropolitan planning organizations across the country to collect and document stories about how they are planning, funding, and building more and better walking and bicycling projects. Check out the guidebook Building Healthy and Prosperous Communities: How Metro Areas are Building More and Better Bicycling and Walking Projects.

Working with Metropolitan Planning Organizations

Ever wondered what a Metropolitan Planning Organization was and how to work with one? Check out our latest guide (PDF) outlining the core responsibilities of an MPO and how to partner with them to advance healthy communities. 

If you are interested in learning more about past work highlighting MPO efforts, check out this set of case studies and policy paper authored by Transportation for America, with support from APHA.

Transportation and Health Tool Case Studies

APHA recently released five case studies that provide valuable insight into opportunities to advance health on both state and regional levels. The case studies feature organizations using the Transportation and Health Tool indicators to:

Want to learn more about the Transportation and Health Tool? Read an article in the Journal of Transport & Health about the Transportation and Health Tool. You can also listen to the Incorporating Health in Transportation Decisions webinar to learn more about how practitioners are using the Transportation and Health Tool (hosted by APHA with support from CDC).  

Promoting active communities: Finding data that tells your story

APHA believes in the power of evidence — and using data to inspire change — to create healthier communities for all. That’s why we’re proud to announce a website exploring the Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2016 Benchmarking Report, which traces the rise of walking and bicycling across the nation.

APHA and the Institute of Transportation Engineers, in partnership with the League of American Bicyclists, created the interactive website to make critical report data more accessible and user-friendly. Funding for the website was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Highway Administration. Learn more about how public health practitioners can use active transportation data provided on the website to assess and inform efforts toward health equity by reading The Biking & Walking Benchmarking Report Website: An Online Tool to Support Health Equity (PDF). 


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