Health and Transportation Policy Forum

The Health and Transportation Policy Forum is a resource for advocates, scientists, policy makers, and members of the general public who are interested in the intersections between transportation planning and health. The site provides information about research initiatives and funded projects that examine the use of transportation policy-making to promote healthy communities.

Public health is of increasing concern to planners nationwide. Research suggests the built environment significantly impacts levels of physical activity and health.

“Active living” integrates physical activity into daily routines. These routine activities could include walking or bicycling for transportation, exercise or pleasure, playing in the park, and even taking the stairs.

Federal transportation funding is an important source of support for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Federal funding supports improvements in the built environment; understanding how funding is distributed and used is particularly relevant to transportation planning.

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The link between transportation policy and health

A transportation system comprises the infrastructure and tools needed to move passengers and goods from place to place. A community’s transportation system can feature several types of passenger transportation used by the general public as well as privately used modes such as personal automobiles and bicycles.
As one factor affecting a community’s built environment-the man-made structures that make up a community’s physical surroundings-poorly designed transportation systems can expose community residents to unhealthy air and hazardous pedestrian environments while reducing opportunities for physical activity.
Transportation systems that offer opportunities non-motorized travel, including bicycling and walking, offer a variety of environmental, structural, economic, and public health rewards. These include consumer cost savings, energy conservation, reduced traffic congestion and pollution, and increased opportunity for physical activity. Gray Blue Bar (BAR_GrayBlue_372x5.jpg)

Report: The Impact of Federal Transportation Legislation on Local Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements

With funding from the Active Living Research Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity and Rails to Trails Conservancy examined the impact of federal transportation funding on pedestrian and bicycle improvements from a state and local perspective. This report summarizes the major components of federal transportation legislation, describes the methods used to analyze the federal transportation data, and examines how funding was distributed and applied across states and regions between 1990 and 2004. More