Transportation

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Walking and bicycling for daily transportation are important ways to get regular physical activity, but such active travel has decreased dramatically over the past few decades. Investing transportation funds in sidewalks, traffic-calming devices, greenways, trails and public transit make it easier for people to walk and bike within their own neighborhoods and to other places they need to go. Designing communities that support active travel also creates recreational opportunities, promotes health and can even lower health care costs. Research that shows how infrastructure improvements promote active travel can help policy-makers, planners and other professionals create healthier communities for residents of all ages.

Download our Transportation-related Resources Sheet for the best evidence available about a variety of transportation-based strategies for promoting physical activity.

You can also view and download our The Role of Transportation in Promoting Physical Activity infographic.

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Research Translation: Lessons from Dissemination and Implementation Research for Interventions Promoting Walking and Walkability

The objective of this webinar was to discuss how complex research results can be translated to inform practice and policy. The presenters described appropriate study designs and methods for Dissemination and Implementation research. These principles were illustrated with examples.

Presentations included:

Public Health and Policy Dissemination Research
Ross C. Brownson, PhD, Bernard Becker Professor, Director, Prevention Research Center, Washington University in St. Louis

Effective Walking and Walkability Interventions

There are a growing number of evidence-based strategies to improve walking and walkability, but few of them have achieved wide use. Thus, there is a need to work toward improved dissemination and implementation (D&I) for the most promising interventions. Leading researchers provided an overview of the state of the science on effective walking and walkability interventions, specifically as it relates to D&I research. Important target populations, including racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups at highest risk for inactivity, were discussed.

Cost Analysis of Bicycle Facilities: Cases from Cities in the Portland, OR Region

Funding Source: 
Active Living Research
Date: 
06/28/2013
Description: 

Weigand, L., McNeil, N., Dill, J. (2013). Cost Analysis of Bicycle Facilities: Cases from Cities in the Portland, OR Region. Portland, OR: Portland State University.

As communities nationwide are faced with declining transportation revenues and increased demand, bicycle facilities can offer a way to increase the capacity of the existing infrastructure at a lower cost than traditional road projects.  Bicycling instead of driving for shorter distances can help reduce traffic congestion by getting cars off the roadway, while promoting physical activity and better health for the individual.  However, this potential can be overlooked as local officials are often unaware of the need to enhance the bicycle network to increase ridership, along with the relatively low cost to improve and expand the network.  This study was undertaken to provide policy-makers with objective information on the true costs of bicycle facilities; to give transportation planners and engineers cost data to develop realistic plans and cost estimates; and, to help active transportation advocates make the case to the public and to elected officials for the economic benefits of bicycle facilities and cost savings over other infrastructure. 

This study documented the costs associated with installing various bicycle facilities on existing streets, along with descriptions and photos of each facility type.  For each type of bicycle facility there are a range of possible costs, determined in part on whether the change is a simple intervention or more complex redesign, and what level of planning or engineering the physical and political context require.  In general, it was found that costs associated with design and construct of bicycle infrastructure improvements are relatively low when compared to similar lengths of roadway projects.  For example, the City of Portland calculated that the city’s entire bicycle network, consisting of over 300 miles of bikeways would cost $60 million to replace (2008 dollars), whereas the same investment would yield just one mile of a four-lane urban freeway. In addition, bicycle facilities can often be combined with other roadway improvements to take advantage of economies of scale.  For example, bicycle lanes can often be added to streets as part of planned maintenance or re-striping projects at a cost of $1 -5 per foot (excluding right of way acquisition and engineering costs). Bicycle boulevards, which are through-routes on streets with low traffic volumes and speeds, typically include a range of improvements to calm traffic and improve conditions for cycling.  Depending on the context and magnitude of the project, bicycle boulevards generally cost between $9.50 and $27.20 per foot.

This report was funded by Active Living Research through a Commissioned Analysis Award.

Authors: 
Lynn Weigand, Nathan McNeil, & Jennifer Dill
Organization: 
Portland State University
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The Path to Complete Streets in Underserved Communities: Lessons from U.S. Case Studies

Funding Source: 
Active Living Research
Date: 
10/16/2014
Description: 

Clifton, K., Morrissey, S., Bronstein, S. (2014). The Path to Complete Streets in Underserved Communities: Lessons from U.S. Case Studies. Portland, OR: Portland State University.

This report highlights four jurisdictions that have worked to provide transportation systems that consider the needs of all users: the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Michigan; the City of Decatur, Georgia; the Metropolitan Planning Organization and City of Nashville, Tennessee; and the City of Portland, Oregon. Each case study highlights the ways in which communities have catered to the transportation disadvantaged through planning, designing, and implementing Complete Streets policies.

The four communities highlighted in this study all have taken steps to implement Complete Streets policies and projects that either target the transportation disadvantaged directly or greatly benefit them. Methods for implementing change included community engagement that targeted transport disadvantaged populations, active public involvement strategies such as community walking audits, and the development of equity-oriented project criteria. These methods helped build support for future projects, and identified priorities based on direct input from community members.

Although the Complete Streets Coalition provides a guide to writing effective Complete Streets policy, there is little research or information on how communities have specifically used Complete Streets policies to serve the transportation disadvantaged. The intent of this report is to provide guidance and teachable lessons to other communities struggling to address the unserved transportation needs of older adults, children, people with disabilities, low income households, and ethnically diverse communities.

This report was funded by Active Living Research through a Commissioned Analysis Award.

Authors: 
Kelly Clifton, Sarah Bronstein, & Sara Morrissey
Organization: 
Portland State University
Study Type: 
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Designing and Conducting Research on Policy Implementation

This webinar, designed primarily for researchers, featured two leading researchers who discussed the design and methods of conducting studies in the area of implementation science as it relates to policy, practice, and environmental changes to promote physical activity. The presentations defined the field of implementation science, introduced implementation theories and outcome models, methods used, and addressed the challenges in this field of study, lessons learned, and recommendations for other researchers who are looking carry out their policy studies. Dr.

The Benefits of Street-Scale Features for Walking and Biking

Date: 
09/01/2015
Description: 

Maurer Braun, L. & Reed, A. (2015). The Benefits of Street-Scale Features for Walking and Biking. Washington, DC: American Planning Association.

Abstract: 

As the costs of physical inactivity become increasingly evident, and as planners, public health professionals, and others working in the field of active transportation strive to promote walking and biking, the necessity of retrofitting and updating street facilities and sidewalk features is apparent. The benefits of incorporating infrastructure that supports active transportation into our streetscapes are many. While efforts to encourage walking and biking often focus on physical activity benefits, it is important to recognize that investments in these travel modes offer a wider set of potential co-benefits for communities.

This literature review focuses on the benefits that may arise from investment in different types of street-scale features, either independently or in combination. The review considers not only potential impacts related to physical activity—which have been treated extensively in the literature to date—but also a variety of co-benefits including social cohesion, crime prevention and public safety, multimodal traffic safety, mental health, and economic effects. The review links these co-benefits to various types of street-scale features that encourage walking and biking, such as sidewalks, bicycle lanes, traffic calming, crossing aids, aesthetics and placemaking, public space, street trees, green infrastructure, and street furniture.

This analysis provides background information and supportive data for planners, transportation professionals, advocates, and policy makers working to encourage community design that promotes active transportation. Through this report, individuals working locally will be able to highlight the co-benefits of street-scale interventions that support walking and biking.

This report was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the Active Living Research program.

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Design and Methods of Natural Experiments in Transit and Physical Activity

Imminent changes in policies or environments (i.e., “natural experiments”) can provide researchers with a unique opportunity to evaluate the before and after impacts of the change on a variety of health outcomes, including physical activity even if the policy or environmental changes were not primarily geared toward health behavior change. These pre-post test evaluations can offer valuable information that typical cross sectional studies cannot.

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