Transportation Planning: An Overview for Public Health Advocates


Public Health Law & Policy (PHLP) and TransForm

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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.