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Healthy & Safe Communities

Air pollution-related illnesses are leading to thousands of hospitalizations, emergency room visits and premature deaths every year in California. Better planning offers an incredible opportunity to reverse skyrocketing trends in chronic illnesses and tackle a root cause of California’s worst-in-the-nation air pollution.



Quick Fact

More than half of Californians fail to meet recommended guidelines for physical activity, putting them at higher risk of obesity, diabetes, cancers and other chronic illnesses and premature death. But people living in highly walkable, mixed-use communities are more than twice as likely to get the recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise as those living in auto-oriented areas. (CDC 2003, American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 2005)

SB 375: Recommendations from Health Advocates

Final Report — SCS Health & Equity Metrics – August 2011
By Human Impact Partners
As we have seen in the past, if the metrics that MPOs use to assess scenarios for land use and transportation changes don’t include health and equity measures, it is unlikely that the final selected plan will lead to healthy and equitable outcomes. This report provides MPOs with a set of metrics that will promote health and equity, as well as sustainability.
see the page summary
Download the full report
Download a status report that assesses the use of the metrics by MPOs as of December 2012.

Health Coalition – Comment Letter to Air Resources Board re: SB 375 Targets
September 22, 2010
Download the comment letter


Publications and Tools

State of the Air 2013
American Lung Association – April 2013
While the State of the Air 2013 report shows tremendous progress for our state, it also serves to remind us that Californians continue to struggle with breathing clean air, as approximately 90% of residents live in areas with unhealthy air. 
Download the full report and regional fact sheets here.

Creating Healthy Regional Transportation Plans: A Primer for California’s Public Health Community on Regional Transportation Plans and Sustainable Communities Strategies
By TransForm in collaboration with CA Department of Public Health – January 2012
This guide is intended to help demystify Regional Transportation Plans (RTPs), explain key components and requirements, identify ways to incorporate health-promoting strategies into RTPs, and showcase short case studies of improving community health through RTPs. It is intended for public health and sustainable transportation professionals as well as local government officials. Ultimately, the guide should help decision-makers focus on strategies that not only improve transportation efficiency and reduce greenhouse  gas emissions, but also have dramatic health and health equity benefits.
Download the report
Learn more

It’s a safe decision – Complete Streets in California
By National Complete Streets Coalition and Local Government Commission – February 2012
For decades, California and most of the nation have been building streets that are incomplete because they fail to provide safe access for everyone who uses them, whether they are in cars, on foot or bicycle, in wheelchairs, or using public transportation. The good news is that California and its communities are responding by adopting Complete Streets policies that are already saving lives and improving communities. This report documents some of those success stories and makes the case for changing federal policy so that it supports continued progress toward making our roadways safer for all who use them.
Download Report

Research Shows Dramatic Health Benefits of Walking & Biking
From the California Dept. of Public Health – November 2011
A public health research team recently developed the Integrated Transport and Health Impacts Model (I-THIM) that makes it possible to estimate the health co-benefits and potential harms from active transport and low carbon driving in urban populations. The team applied the model to the Bay Area, and the results are dramatic.  According to the report, “Reducing risks from chronic disease of the magnitude suggested by I-THIM would rank among the most notable public health achievements in the modern era, and reduce the estimated $34 billion annual cost in California from cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions such as obesity.”
Download the 2-page report summary
Download the technical report
Download the powerpoint overview

Getting Involved in Transportation Planning: An Overview for Health Advocates
By Public Health Law and Policy and TransForm – June 2011
This fact sheet discusses the important link between transportation planning and health, describes the key players and processes of local and regional transportation planning, and suggests steps you can take to advocate effectively for healthier transportation policies.
Download the fact sheet

Smart Growth is Healthy Growth
By the American Lung Association in California – July 2011
This booklet is designed to help local elected officials understand the health benefits of mixed-use sustainable communities.
Download the booklet

Safe Routes to School – Quick Facts
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a national and international movement to create safe, convenient, and fun opportunities for children to bicycle and walk to and from schools. The “Quick Facts” page of their website provides a wealth of information on the many benefits that can be gained by providing children with better options for walking and biking to school.
Link to website

Healthy Planning Policies: A Compendium from California General Plans
By Public Health Law and Policy – 2009
In the last few years, a new understanding of the built environment’s impact on health has brought the public health community and planners together to develop a variety of innovative land use policies that promote health. This report excerpts language from general plans that have gone a step beyond the traditional to build healthier communities, reflecting the growing diversity of strategies for integrating health into planning.
Download the report

American Lung Association Releases New Data on Heath Costs of Sprawl
September 2010
Link to learn more…

Climate Change Challenges, Vehicle Emissions and Public Health
By Public Policy Institute of California (Louise Wells Bedsworth) – March 2010
This study examines options for reducing emissions from motor vehicles and evaluates each of the options in terms of its public health, climate change, and cost implications, including the uncertainty associated with each option.
Download Report

Land Use, Climate Change, and Public Health Issue Brief
By The American Lung Association in California – Spring 2010
This briefing book was developed to help raise awareness about the connection between land use, climate change, public health and the significance of the SB 375 process.
Download the briefing book


Links for More Info

American Lung Association in California
Healthy Places Coalition
Human Impact Partners
Public Health Law and Policy
Safe Routes to School National Partnership


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