According to Dr. Rodier, "Increasing evidence indicates that improved health may be a significant benefit when land use plans and transportation policies help increase active transport and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Active transport is defined as physical activity to travel or run errands, such as walking or using a bike, rather than using a gas vehicle."
In this study, California's activity-based travel demand model (ABM) is applied to demonstrate how this new generation of travel models can produce the active travel data (age and sex distributions) required by comparative risk assessment models to estimate health outcomes for alternative land use and transport plans. This application can also identify the magnitude of change in active travel that may be possible from land use, transit, and vehicle pricing policies for California and its five major regions by 2035. Those five regions include San Francisco, Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
The results of this study suggest that distance-based vehicle pricing may increase walking by about 10 percent and biking by about 17 percent. Concurrently, GHG from VMT may be reduced by about 16 percent. Transit expansion and supportive development patterns may increase active travel by about 2-3 percent for both walk and bike modes while also reducing VMT by about 4 percent on average. The combination of all three policies may increase time spent walking by about 13 percent and biking by about 19 percent while reducing VMT by about 19 percent.
"While there has been an explosion in the health literature of studies documenting and in some cases quantifying the health benefits of these modes," said Dr Lee, "evaluating the active transport and health effects of new transportation projects and land use plans is relatively new."
In fact, the increased physical activity associated with active transport resulting from these plans was responsible for almost all the health benefits. Further, health benefits were far greater from walking and biking than from GHG reductions alone. Health guidelines suggest that children and adolescents should exercise one hour a day, and adults should exercise about 20 minutes a day.
Major California metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are beginning to adopt the methods developed by this study to create heath performance measures that may be included in regional transportation plans. Future applications of ABMs will no doubt improve the representation of spatial, travel time, and travel cost variables and thus improve the accuracy and precision of health- and active transport-related performance measures.
Caroline Rodier, PhD, is a research associate at the Mineta Transportation Institute and the associate director of the Urban Land Use and Transportation Center at the University of California, Davis. She holds a PhD in ecology and an MS in community development from the University of California, Davis, and a B. in US history from Barnard College, Columbia University.
Richard Lee, PhD, AICP, is a lecturer in the Urban and Regional Planning Department at San José State University and has been a research associate with the Mineta Transportation Institute for over 15 years. He earned his master's degrees in civil engineering (1984) and city and regional planning (1985) and his PhD in city and regional planning (1995), all from the University of California, Berkeley.
Brandon Hayduis a transportation planner for Fehr and Peers, working on travel demand modeling projects. He earned his Masters' degree in city and regional planning and Master of Science in engineering, both specializing in transportation planning, from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He earned his BA in political science from UC Davis.
Nicholas J. Linsech is a researcher at Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. He earned his Master's degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California, Davis.
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