Transportation Planning: An Overview for Public Health Advocates

Author: 

Public Health Law & Policy (PHLP) and TransForm

Year Published: 

2011


Read the full report

While transportation planning has long centered around the concept of "mobility" (moving people from place to place), recent focus has begun shifting to "access," or ensuring that people can easily reach jobs, education, and other daily needs.

Transportation planners design our streets and sidewalks, highways, and public transit networks. Agency decisions are made at all levels, from the city to the federal government. Their choices have a significant impact on chronic disease rates, air quality, and equitable access to services and economic opportunities. Transportation planning decisions can help improve residents' health by promoting bicycling and walking, focusing on access to food shopping and other daily needs (especially for vulnerable populations such as low-income, elderly, and disabled), and conceiving of neighborhoods as destinations rather than funnels for cars and other vehicles.

This fact sheet discusses the important link between transportation planning and health, describes the key players and processes of local and regional transportation planning, and suggests steps you can take to advocate effectively for healthier transportation policies.