, D.C., May 21, 2009 –
As Congress prepares to rewrite the federal transportation bill this year, the American Public Health Association (APHA) recently joined the Transportation for America coalition in releasing a blueprint to reform the nation’s transportation system.
The blueprint, “The Route to Reform,” outlines a renewed vision for the federal transportation program, as well as ways to pay for it and account for dollars spent. Most importantly, the blueprint emphasizes a restructuring that invests in building a smart, safe and clean system. As APHA has established transportation as a legislative priority for the current year, signing onto the blueprint is an important step in the process of advocating for a responsible transportation policy that includes provisions to protect health across the nation.
“The upcoming federal transportation bill provides a unique opportunity to effectively address the many health, environmental, and economic issues created by the current transportation system,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “By changing our focus, we can change our transportation system into one that supports safe, clean, smart and healthy opportunities in communities across the nation, particularly those that are currently underserved.”
APHA’s priorities for the upcoming transportation bill include:
- Public Health. Making public health, safety and equity priorities in transportation decisions, and integrating transportation and land-use planning decisions to better address these priorities.
- Research and Tracking. Requiring health impact assessments and other research to guide transportation planning, policies and funding decisions; evaluating how transportation and planning policies affect public health; establishing performance measures; and developing indicators to track greenhouse gases and other emissions.
- Equity. Encouraging participation of local communities and underserved populations in the transportation planning process; improving affordable transportation projects to assure access to basic needs; funding programs that support transportation access for disadvantaged populations; and developing multi-modal transportation systems that address community specific needs.
“Asthma, obesity, heart disease, injury, diabetes. These are just a few of the health issues that we can work to address through a transportation policy that is built upon an understanding of the public health implications of our transportation system,” Benjamin said. “It is critically important that we seize this opportunity to protect health in our nation.”