Volume 8, Number 1
By Partnership for Prevention, Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) at UC Berkeley and Booz Allen Hamilton
Communities looking to promote health and safety through land use and transportation policies can turn to this report, Transportation and Health: Policy Interventions for Safer, Healthier People and Communities. The report focuses on the effects of policy on three areas: environment and environmental health, community design and active transportation, and automobile injuries and fatalities. Researchers took a comprehensive approach when examining policy and detail the extent of each policies’ use, health benefits gained, economic costs, and implementation strategies.
Of particular interest is the section focused on policies supporting active transportation, especially those that make walking and bicycling easy and accessible. Among the policies discussed are those that support 1) building facilities such as sidewalks, bike lanes, and bike parking; 2) encouraging street connectivity to limit block size and support dense development; and 3) providing wayfinding resources like maps and signs. Funding and implementing programs that advance the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists are important as well, including Safe Routes to School, Complete Streets, and Context-Sensitive Design. Further integration of public transit with bicycling and walking would also help increase the mode share of all three modes.
Health Impact Assessment (HIA) for Planners: What Tools are Useful?
By Anne Forsyth, Cornell University,
A practical overview of the development and use of the Health Impact Assessments (HIA) in planning, this article discusses its history, reviews current practices, and identifies its role in planning. HIAs were first used in the 1980s in Europe, Canada, Australia, and developing countries to assess the impact of infrastructure projects on public health. These early efforts were often modeled after Environmental Impact Assessments and drew from contemporary movements to promote health in all public policies. Its use expanded quickly in the 1990s as organizations and governments developed frameworks around the world, including the World Health Organization and the British Overseas Development Administration. Over the past decade, those in America have also begun to use HIAs to examine plans and policies. Public health professionals have been the HIA’s primary proponents, trying to integrate public health concerns into planning and policy outcomes. By developing quantifiable processes for assessing health effects, professionals, whether in public health, planning, or policy, can influence these decisions and improve individual and community health.
The authors emphasize that there is no one format to which all HIAs adhere; each is different depending on the local circumstances and the policy or plan it is examining. All of them, however, attempt to identify community health issues and ways to prevent or alleviate negative impacts, as well as strategies to increase health benefits. Several projects developing and utilizing HIAs are examined, along with tools being used, including Design for Health and San Francisco’s Healthy Development Measurement Tool. The article also discusses the challenges of HIA implementation. Costs and time commitment can be high, and some of the health issues that HIAs examine are not very amenable to measurement. With the link between health and the built environment becoming increasingly clear, however, the authors argue that HIAs are emerging as an important tool with which health problems can be addressed.
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