This is an issue that has come up in many communities, so much so that we are conducting a
workshop at TRB this year on the subject. The workshop will be on Sunday afternoon from
1:30-4:30 in the Hilton. Attached is a current draft of the workshop objectives and
agenda. I'm not aware of any studies that have directly compared the benefits of
active transport to the adverse health risks of near-road exposures. Trish Koman of the
U. Michigan has agreed to look into this subject for the workshop. Trish has expertise on
air pollution and obesity health issues. For near-road health concerns, I will add that,
although the traffic volumes you note are quite low compared to typical ner-road exposure
and health studies, there have been studies in Europe that have shown elevated risks for
roads with volumes as low as 10000 AADT. You might be aware of this already; the Health
Effects Institute did a review of near-road health and exposure studies, which can be
found at http://pubs.healtheffects.org/getfile.php?u=553
. In addition to discussing the
health issues, the workshop will discuss potential mitigation options as well as research
needs for this topic.
I wish I had a straighforward answer for you right now, but this is a complex issue. If
anyone on the listserve has any recommendations for our workshop, they would be greatly
appreciated as well.
Rich Baldauf, PhD, P.E.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
109 T.W. Alexander Drive
Research Triangle Park, NC 27711
From: h+t--friends-bounces(a)chrispy.net [h+t--friends-bounces(a)chrispy.net] on behalf of
Thera Black [blackvt(a)trpc.org]
Sent: Monday, November 04, 2013 4:00 PM
Subject: [H+T--Friends] AQ Impacts vs Active Transport Benefits
Greetings, all - I’m reaching out to Health and Transportation listserv members in the
hopes someone can point me in a productive direction.
I have a planning commission that is struggling with the public health benefits/impacts of
compact, walkable urban development. On the one hand they understand and appreciate the
active transportation benefits associated with this built form. On the other hand, the
epidemiologist on the commission argues that the increased impacts of air pollution in an
urban area more than offsets the benefits associated with active lifestyle and so is
working to prohibit urbanization measures along our key transit corridors – density, mix
of uses, transit oriented development.
I can find reams of articles on the benefits of active transport. And I can find scholarly
articles about transportation-related air quality impacts on public health. What I cannot
find is anything that brings the two together in a way that sheds light about these
considerations in combination – air quality impacts trumping active transport benefits (or
vice versa). This is further complicated by the studies she is referencing which were done
in major metropolitan areas. We are a small, low-density metro area with a population of
about 175,000 between three cities. Our principal arterials carry anywhere from 10,000 –
18,000 vehicles per day. We have very little “urban” land use form and are trying to more
effectively stimulate that kind of private sector investment along our premier transit
corridors where we have the beginnings of walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods taking shape.
Are you aware of any research that has looked at the trade-offs between active transport
and air quality impacts that might be useful in this regard?
Any insights are appreciated – thank you!
Thurston Regional Planning Council
2424 Heritage Court SW, Ste A
Olympia, WA 98502
360.956.7575 ext 2545
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