Implementing Safe and Healthy Streets: Comparison of Design Principles from Public Health and Transportation Perspectives

Monday Seminar Series
Monday, February 11th, 2019
12:00 – 1:00 pm
1335 Health Sciences Learning Center
Presented by:

Carey McAndrews, PhD

Associate Professor

Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture

University of Wisconsin-Madison


Transportation systems comprise diverse elements; among these elements, streets–and their design–are essential for realizing positive health outcomes and reducing health disparities. The transportation and public health disciplines, however, have separate traditions of scientific research, which may imply different approaches to defining and addressing the role of streets as an environmental determinant of health. If these different approaches conflict, such a conflict could hinder the implementation of improvements that meet both transportation and public health needs. This project assessed and evaluated public health and transportation approaches to creating safe and healthy streets, with the aim of identifying potential gaps and bridges between the two disciplines’ separate research traditions and approaches. We used qualitative methods to analyze documents produced by public health and transportation experts in which they define the goals of streets (e.g., mobility, safety, sense of place), as well as implementation strategies for realizing these goals. Our key finding is that transportation and public health already share a common framework for analyzing the causal relationships between streets and outcomes such as injuries, air quality, and noise. However, the fields rely on different design paradigms to realize their desired outcomes. Transportation’s design principles are based in access management, which deals with tradeoffs between efficient traffic flow and access to adjacent property; public health’s design principles are based in complete streets, which deals with tradeoffs in road space allocation across different road users. We need to know which aspects of these different strategies (and others) are most effective to achieve transportation and public health goals.

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This post was authored by Rosalind Bendix-Lewis on 02/06/2019.