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Public Health and Transportation Case Studies

Cyclist passing runner on trailCommunities of all types – urban, rural, suburban – and with budgets of all sizes are addressing the intersection of transportation and public health, often with special attention given to equity. While there is no single ‘best’ solution that is appropriate for every community, these examples highlight successful programs that show the potential to improve health and equity in communities through transportation decision-making, planning and operations.

Health Impact Assessments

Health impact assessments offer decision-makers an opportunity to ensure that health and equity are considered when shaping future transportation policy and systems. Background information on health impact assessments is available from APHA (fact sheet), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Human Impact Partners.

To view archived webinars on HIAs, visit the APHA transportation webinars web page.

To find completed and in progress health impact assessments, visit:

Community Design

Complete Streets in Los Angeles County

In Baldwin Park in Los Angeles County, approximately 39 percent of the children are overweight. Its new complete streets policy vows to “create a safe and efficient transportation system that promotes the health and mobility of all Baldwin Park citizens and visitors.” With help from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the city is making five corridors safe for all users and is adopting a new street design manual for future projects.  

Greenworks Philadelphia

In 2009, the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Sustainability released a plan to make Philadelphia the nation’s greenest city by 2015. Many of the plan’s targets are directly linked to health and equity. The plan includes the specific goal of improving air quality to improve residents’ health, which the city hopes to achieve by reducing traffic congestion, increasing the use of low-emission vehicles and reducing overall vehicle miles traveled. 

Public Transportation 

Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service (Ohio)
The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority was awarded a grant under the FTA’s State of Good Repair program to replace 43 of their 56 paratransit buses. These buses are specialized to serve older passengers and individuals with disabilities. The new models will be safer and more energy-efficient, and will accommodate up to 12 passengers and four wheelchairs. In addition, the grant will allow TARTA to expand its increasingly popular call-a-ride service to suburban residents and local college students, among others.

Walking and Biking Programs

The NYC Department of Transportation partnered with Transportation Alternatives to create the Safe Routes for Seniors campaign, aiming to address the disproportionately high rate of senior pedestrian fatalities in NYC, and encourage senior citizens to walk more. Their recommendations focused on taking into account the sensory and physical changes that occur with age when designing streets and included installing medians and high-visibility crosswalks, repairing and extending curbs and pedestrian ramps, keeping streets as flat as possible, and increasing the time allowed for pedestrians to cross the street.