Health impacts of urban transport policy measures: A guidance note for practice

Elsevier, Journal of Transport & Health, Volume 6, 2017, Pages 209-227
Authors: 
Haneen Krheis, Anthony D. May, Mark J. Nieuwenhuijsen

Abstract

Background

Urban transport related exposures and practices are associated with a significant burden of morbidity and premature mortality, which could be prevented by changing current practices. Cities now have access to an increasingly wide range of transport policy measures which continue to expand. However, the health impacts of these measures are not always explicitly defined or well understood and therefore may not be sufficiently considered when selecting policy measures.

Aims

The aim of this paper is to qualitatively review 64 different transport policy measures indexed in the Knowledgebase on Sustainable Urban Land use and Transport (KonSULT), and provide an indication of their potential health impacts, based on expert judgment.

Results

We report that key health impacts of transport occur via pathways of motor vehicle crashes, traffic-related air pollution, noise, heat islands, lack of green space, physical inactivity, climate change and social exclusion and community severance. We systematically describe the expected health impacts of transport policy measures sourced from KonSULT and find that many, but not all, can have a positive impact on health. The magnitude of both the positive and negative impacts remains largely unknown and warrants further research and synthesis.

Conclusions

Urban transport is responsible for a large mortality and morbidity burden and policy measures that are beneficial to health need to be implemented to reduce this burden. There are considerable differences between these policy measures in terms of potential health impacts and this should be considered in any transport planning. It is important to monitor the health impacts of all policy measures to provide further evidence on whether they work as expected or not, to ensure that the most cost-effective solutions, with the largest benefits and the smallest health risks, are being adopted.