Health in Transportation

Promoting health and quality of life for all individuals through organized efforts and informed choices is an interest in every community. Transportation decision making at the state, regional, and local level offers an opportunity to identify and consider the health implications of transportation options before making final decisions about infrastructure improvements. Specific concerns related to active transportation, safety, air quality, and noise are some common connections between transportation and public health. However, there are many other transportation-related health issues such as access to goods, services, and opportunities as well as health equity.

Specific health needs and priorities will vary by community. This means transportation practitioners must collaborate with health professionals, stakeholders, and other community groups early and often to identify transportation solutions that will support community health and help achieve shared goals.

Transportation agencies are investing in active transportation options, complete street design, safe routes to schools, and other programs that support healthy communities. One challenge to transportation practitioners is knowing when and how to specifically consider health implications. The Decision Guide contains useful information at individual Key Decisions during planning, programming, and project delivery. Hover over the highlighted Key Decisions in the image below to understand the specific relationship of health to the decision. Each highlighted Key Decision contains questions to consider, data, relationships to other planning processes, and examples from current practice to tailor to the specific health interests in any community. Key Decisions that are greyed-out have no specific relevance to the individual application or topic area but are still accessible from this graphic. Practitioners should also consider Safety, Human Environment and Communities, Stakeholder Collaboration, and Bicycles and Pedestrians Applications for additional health-related support. See Links to Applications in the Key Decision details.

Who are potential health stakeholders?

In addition to professionals who specialize in air quality, safety, modal options, and special populations, many agencies and groups support public health. As a start, consider inviting:

  • Public health agencies
  • Social service agencies and non-profits
  • Medical and health providers
  • Medical first responders
  • Professional health associations
  • Community and advocacy groups
  • School districts and educational institutions
  • Local parks and recreation departments
  • Chambers of commerce and economic development groups

Don't forget the importance of individual advocates and champions.