Literature and Resources
Transportation influences public health through five primary pathways:
Active transportation — Transportation agencies and their partners can help people lead more active lifestyles by giving them options for getting to places they need to go without driving. They can also reduce the distance between destinations people travel to satisfy daily needs.
Safety — Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. By providing transportation options and improving roadway facilities, transportation agencies can reduce the incidence of motor vehicle crashes.
Cleaner air — Air pollution has been linked with heart disease and respiratory illnesses, including asthma. Improving transportation system efficiency and supporting cleaner vehicles and fuels can improve air quality.
Connectivity — Providing a well-connected, multi-modal transportation network increases people’s ability to access destinations that can influence their health and well-being, such as jobs, health care services, and parks.
Equity — Negative health effects related to the transportation system often fall hardest on more vulnerable members of the community, such as low-income residents, communities of color, children, and older adults.
General Transportation and Health Resources
This web page describes Federal Highway Administration efforts to address public health through transportation planning. It has resources for state and regional transportation planning agencies, links to related government agencies and advocacy groups, and information on upcoming training opportunities.
The American Public Health Association's “Transportation Issues from the Public Health Perspective” website provides reports and fact sheets, webinars, case studies, links to research and news, and communications toolkits on the relationship between transportation and health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines actions to improve health through transportation in its Transportation Recommendations. CDC also describes policies that can be used to implement each recommendation. The recommendations included a glossary of terms related to health and transportation and references to research.
The American Public Transportation Association publication Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits summarizes the health-related benefits of public transportation. It also provides research findings and recommendations to support the consideration and analysis of these benefits in the context of transportation planning decisions.
The Safe States Alliance has several tools and resources related to health and transportation. Their Livability and Smart Growth Assessment Tool Database provides centralized access to basic assessment tools and checklists that can help users evaluate their communities' degree of livability. The database also provides essential information to create safer and healthier neighborhoods. The Safe, Healthy, and Active Transportation Toolkit offers resources and documentation public health professionals, planners, and others can use to support and advance smart growth, livability, and improved built environment efforts.