New Research Shows Walkability, Housing Choice and Transit Reduce Oil Dependency and Promote Health


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An Atlanta-based study has found that walkable neighborhoods with multiple housing options and good transit access to jobs can help reduce oil dependency and climate-harming emissions while increasing healthful levels of exercise. "Carbonless Footprints: Promoting health and climate stabilization through active transportation," has just been published in the journal Preventive Medicine. Dr. Lawrence Frank of the University of British Columbia, the study's lead author, will host an advanced seminar on methods of assessing health impacts of development and transportation investments at CNU 18.

The new analysis is based on data from SMARTRAQ — Strategies for the Metro Atlanta Region's Transportation and Air Quality — founded by Frank in 1998. SMARTRAQ examined how the layout of Atlanta's neighborhoods, cities and region are associated with travel, and how that in turn affects personal, economic and environmental health. The program tests relationships between obesity, physical activity, travel choice, urban form, and air quality.

For planners, public health officials, and decision makers outside the Atlanta area, SMARTRAQ results offers evidence-based guidance on how transportation investments and development may impact environmental and public health. SMARTRAQ also serves as a model for cross-disciplinary, collaborative, and policy-relevant research and data collection.

Dr. Frank's CNU18 seminar will explore SMARTRAQ and other approaches through case study demonstrations, followed by analyses and step-by-step methods and strategies for improving urban design.