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Transportation and Public Health e-Newsletter

March 2013
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Greetings, public health leaders and advocates,
This month's e-newsletter brings you many new resources and ways to get involved in the discussion around health and transportation. Now, we need your help. Last year, APHA became a founding member of the Partnership for Active Transportation, which is a national coalition of transportation, health, economic development and community leaders seeking to build a broader and more influential active transportation movement. Please sign your organization onto a letter to your governor urging the timely and best use of funds to create healthy communities for healthy people by making it safe and easy to walk and bike. The
deadline for sign-ons to the letter is March 18.
Thank you,
APHA Highlights
National Public Health Week is only a month away
NPHW 2013
National Public Health Week is right around the corner and we need your help to make this another successful campaign. NPHW, scheduled for April 1-7, is a time for us to recognize the contributions of public health and focus on pertinent public health issues. This year's NPHW theme is "Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money." The 2013 NPHW partner toolkit, fact sheets and other resources can be found by visiting the NPHW website ( Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter at @NPHW and plan to participate in the NPHW Twitter chat on April 3, via #NPHWchat.
During NPHW you can highlight new and exciting opportunities while public health is in the spotlight, one of which is the concept of Open Streets. Open Streets (sometimes referred to Ciclovías, Sunday Streets or Streets Alive) is a program to temporarily close streets to automobile traffic so that people may use them for physical activity, such as walking, bicycling and dancing. This fun and family-friendly initiative, led by health agencies and advocates in cities across the country, continues to educate communities and promote physical activity. Open Streets require no new infrastructure and can help bring health and physical activity to communities most in need. To learn more, visit and start thinking about how you can bring Open Streets to your community during NPHW and beyond. These articles on Open Streets may be of interest to you and your community:
Rural Transportation: A Link to Improved Health and Quality of Life
- Special feature by APHA 2012 intern, Nicholas Shaffer
Transportation is vital for improving people's quality of life and connecting people to jobs, healthy food, education and health services. However, many residents in rural communities do not have easy access to efficient and safe transportation. Higher concentrations of older adults and low-income citizens (two populations who are less likely to drive) in rural areas could benefit from diverse transportation options. Without an improved rural transportation system, towns risk isolating citizens from their community and from needed resources.
Since rural populations vary depending on geographic setting, economy and social makeup, transportation options will also differ. Options may include public transit (buses, rail, vanpools) and active transportation (walking and biking). More transportation options can be used by residents to gain access to resources that can improve their health and promote an active lifestyle. Consider the need for improved rural transportation:
  • 38 percent of the nation's rural residents live in areas without any public transportation.
  •  3.5 million rural residents lost access to scheduled intercity transportation between 2005 and 2010.
  •  Almost 40 percent of the U.S. transit-dependent population (older adults, people with disabilities and low-income people) live in rural locations.
  •  Food insecurity (limited availability of foods that are nutritional and safe) in rural regions is above the national average. Many rural residents have a limited selection and pay more for nutritious food than urban residents due to inadequate transportation options and long distances.
  •  Children living in rural areas are more likely to be overweight (35.5 percent) than those in urban areas (29.5 percent) and obese (18.5 percent vs. 15.2 percent). Children living in rural areas without proper infrastructure and public transportation may find limited opportunities for daily exercise.
  •  Among women in the U.S., urban residents (79.5 percent) have better access to sidewalks than rural residents (15.2 percent).
BridgeHowever, there are many rural communities that were built on transportation corridors and have interconnected street networks that can support walking or biking. Therefore, a foundation exists to expand rural transportation within and between rural localities. For rural residents, almost 40 percent of trips made are shorter than three miles, and of those trips, half are less than one mile. This means walking and biking could be a viable form of transportation. A study conducted in 12 Missouri rural communities found that walking trails can be beneficial in promoting physical activity among segments of the population at highest risk for inactivity, in particular women and low income individuals. One example of a rural transportation programs comes from Alpine, Utah. Using money awarded from a federal grant and from the town budget, Alpine installed solar powered speed signs, an active transportation path and improved bike storage facilities near the local elementary school. With the new improvement, 50 percent of students are walking or biking to the Alpine Elementary School. The new installations have also resulted in less traffic and safer driving conditions.
Another example shows the connection to health care access. The Chocktaw Nation in Oklahoma used federal funds to purchase ADA-accessible vehicles. With these new vehicles, drivers were able to improve service and increase residents' access to health care. The transportation service provides both demand-response and fixed routes. The main goal of the transportation service is to provide tribal members with visits to and from non-emergency medical appointments.
In Isanti County, Minn., the Isanti County Active Living Partnership helped address the county's rising population of overweight adults (55 percent) by encouraging residents to be more physically active and healthy. Over five years, the Partnership created walking routes, with corresponding maps, throughout the county. While a perceived lack of safety used to be a barrier to physical activity, the new infrastructure additions have created safe routes that allow residents of Isanti County to remain active.
The Wyoming Valley Wellness Trails Partnership in Pennsylvania promotes trails as a way to pursue healthier lifestyles. In Wyoming Valley, one in four residents is moderately or severely overweight. In an effort to create safe and accessible opportunities for physical activity that were close to homes and jobs, WVWTP constructed 15 miles of multi-use trail and one mile of sidewalk trail. WVWTP is now closer to its goal of having an interconnected system of trails that allow residents to be physically active and walk and bike safely to school, work and local businesses. For more information about designing healthy environments, see CDC’s fact sheet on the topic and APHA’s reports and fact sheets.
Resources and News
New resources from the American Journal of Public Health, The Nation's Health and Public Health Newswire:
Risks of high-powered motorcycles among younger adults. Jonathan J. Rolison, Paul J. Hewson, Elizabeth Hellier, Laura Hurst. American Journal of Public Health: March 2013, Vol. 103, No. 3, pp. 568-571.
Health co-benefits and transportation-related reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the San Francisco Bay Area. Neil Maizlish, PhD, James Woodcock, PhD, Sean Co, MS, Bart Ostro, PhD, Amir Fanai, CEng IMechE, and David Fairley, PhD. American Journal of Public Health: Published ahead of print February 2013.

Other resources and news:
Road traffic noise and diabetes: Long-term exposure may increase disease risk.

Long, slow walks may beat shorter, higher intensity runs.

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) released its first health impact assessment on bus rapid transit.

Active Living Research released an infographic on the role of transportation in promoting physical activity.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report on creating equitable, healthy and sustainable communities.

Saint Patrick's Day Drunk Driving Prevention: Help keep your community safe and sober on March 17.

The link between kids who walk or bike to school and concentration is highlighted.
People who take mass transit in large urban areas may more than meet their weekly recommended aerobic exercise requirement.

Get Involved
Free webinar on March 19: Building the Walking Movement — New Strategies and Coalitions
With generous support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and support from APHA, America Walks is hosting the third webinar in the six-part All Things Walking series: Building the Walking Movement—New Strategies and Coalitions. The free webinar will be held on Tuesday, March 19 from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. Register today!
New program from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is pleased to announce the national expansion of the Fire Up Your Feet program. Newly enhanced, Fire Up Your Feet is the “go to” resource for families, teachers, and school staff who want to encourage kids to walk, play and get moving. Centered around the school day, Fire Up Your Feet provides a full range of age-appropriate resources and educational materials to encourage physical activity to, from and at schools. Public health partners can visit to take advantage of activity tips, healthy fundraising resources, and in some states, an Activity Tracking and Challenge Awards program. Check out the resources available for your region at
Participate in Global Youth Traffic Safety Month
Every year in May, young people across the nation unite during Global Youth Traffic Safety Month to focus on the leading cause of death for themselves and their peers: traffic-related crashes. Participate in Global Youth Traffic Safety Month by joining Act Out Loud, which is the traffic safety campaign designed with young adults in mind.
Upcoming Events in 2013
April 14-16 - Main Streets Conference: New Orleans
April 14-17 - International Trails Symposium: Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Arizona
May 29-June 1 - Annual Congress for the New Urbanism: Salt Lake City
June 2-7 - Community Transportation Association Expo: Albuquerque, N.M.
June 23-27 - International Making Cities Livable Conference: Portland, Ore.
Aug. 13-15 - Safe Routes to School National Conference: Sacramento, Calif.
Sept. 24-25 - National Health Impact Assessment Meeting: Washington, D.C.
Nov. 2-6 – APHA Annual Meeting: Boston
Crosswalk with pedestrians.

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