Thursday, April 29, 2010

There is growing awareness that transportation systems and policies can impact our health and indeed the quality of life in communities across America. Congress is currently hard at work developing a multi-year transportation authorization that will have a profound impact on air quality, traffic safety, the availability of walkable communities and affordable mass transit…the challenge is for this impact to be a positive one.

In a thoughtfully written 11 page report (“CDC Recommendations for Improving Health through Transportation Policy”) the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers federal, state and local policymakers a valuable framework to consider that will foster consideration of transportation policies and investments that have the greatest “positive impact on health.” The CDC recommendations have been under development since 2007 and have been informed by the work of the US Department of Transportation and key public health organizations like the American Public Health Association and the Convergence Partnership. CDC calls for adoption of “a balanced portfolio of transportation choices that supports health and reduces health care costs.” The goals of a balanced portfolio are straightforward and should enjoy broad support inside and outside of government.

  • Reduce injuries associated with motor vehicle crashes
  • Encourage healthy community design
  • Promote safe and convenient opportunities for physical activity by supporting active transportation infrastructure
  • Reduce human exposure to air pollution and adverse health impacts associated with these pollutants
  • Ensure that all people have access to safe, healthy, convenient, and affordable transportation
The challenge for those of us committed to prevention is convincing transportation advocates that healthy transportation is in everyone’s interest. We need adoption of complete streets policies, expanded support for safe routes to school, greater attention to community design that promotes health and safety, support of public transportation that improves access for all people and a commitment to reduce human exposure to transportation-related air pollution.

Partnership for Prevention is working to support these efforts by partnering with the Transportation for America, APHA and other public health and prevention leaders to educate policymakers about the extensive body of research that supports the CDC recommendations.

Ripley Forbes
Director, Government Affairs
Partnership for Prevention


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