Metropolitan Transportation Planning
Metropolitan Area Transportation Planning for Healthy Communities
The white paper, "Metropolitan Area Transportation Planning for Healthy Communities," identifies integrated and flexible approaches to how metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and their partners can successfully consider aspects of health during the transportation planning process. Based on research including four best practice studies, the white paper proposes a framework for MPOs and partners to use to integrate health into metropolitan area transportation planning. The report develops a comprehensive approach both to how MPOs can approach health as a direct, broadly-based goal for their interdisciplinary planning, and how they can consider health during all stages of the metropolitan area transportation planning process.
The report identifies a "holistic" approach to health, including consideration of:
- Active transportation: Transportation systems that encourage walking or bicycling can help people to increase their levels of physical activity, resulting in significant potential health benefits and disease prevention. Transportation planners can increase opportunities for active transportation by planning regional and local transportation systems that are safe, convenient, affordable, and attractive for system users.
- Safety: The critical step for MPOs to move from traditional measures of reduced injuries and fatalities to a more holistic approach is to include safety as part of an overall goal for transportation plans and projects that lead to a "healthier community."
- Air pollution: This paper focuses on transportation-related air pollution emissions and their impacts on human health, such as asthma or bronchitis, and transportation planning processes that consider improved air quality as part of a holistic approach to health, in addition to meeting Federal air quality requirements.
- Access to opportunities for healthy lifestyles: Community design and transportation systems can support or inhibit residents in their pursuit of health-related activities. These activities may include access from residences and workplaces to: stores selling healthy food, medical offices, social service centers, and active recreation facilities. Access to health-related activities is especially critical for vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, such as the elderly and children, as well as designated Environmental Justice communities (specifically low-income and minority populations) with limited transportation options.
The white paper assesses how four MPOs are integrating consideration of public health benefits and impacts into on-going metropolitan area transportation planning and decision-making. The MPOs are the Nashville Area MPO in Tennessee, the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) in the Seattle metropolitan area, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).
The report also includes summaries of Federal and State regulations, policies, and funding programs that provide the foundation or context for MPOs nationwide to engage in health-related transportation planning; available technical tools; and applicable research and reports. The four MPOs featured in the best practice studies produce visible and significant results through connecting transportation planning activities to health considerations.
Full White Paper
For more information about the TPCB program, contact Michelle Noch
at FHWA (202-366-9206) or John Sprowls
at FTA (202-366-5362).