Abstracts: ISEE 21st Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland, August 25–29, 2009: Symposium Abstracts
This research aims at developing and populating a health impact assessment model to estimate health benefits and risks of urban policies, specifically active-transportation, that address climate change and also promote other health-related outcomes. Reducing vehicular travel is essential for climate change mitigation and shifting populations towards active-travel modes (cycling, walking) represents a promising strategy with high potential for public health benefits. However, depending on local conditions, such strategies may also result in adverse health effects if implemented inappropriately. Currently there is no holistic framework, and related tools for policy makers to evaluate inputs and expected health impacts are lacking.
An integrated conceptual model to understand health implications of active transportation is being developed based on a review of the literature in relevant fields. Within this framework, we will then build a more specific computational model that addresses interactively travel behavior and selected health and environmental impacts in four case cities in Europe: Barcelona, Basel, Copenhagen and Paris.
A conceptual framework of active-travel policies was developed. It identifies examples of potential benefits, such as increased physical activity leading to increased energy expenditure and fitness, enhanced mental health, and reduced vehicle emissions leading to improved air quality, as well as associated risks, such as potential increased inhalation of air pollution, exposure to UV radiation and traffic hazards. Where critical gaps are identified, primary data collection is planned to populate the model, including data on determinants of active-travel, and potential co-benefits and co-risks of mode shifts, in order to evaluate overall impacts. The most relevant indicators and policy scenarios will be assessed during a multidisciplinary workshop of stakeholders and experts.
A first broad assessment was made of implications of active-travel policies. Data collection efforts and toolbox development will ensue to aid decision-making for health-promoting urban policies.