Andrew L. Dannenbergab, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and Department of Urban Design and Planning, University of Washington; Daniel A. Rodriguez, Department of City and Regional Planning and Institute for Transportation Studies, University of California Berkeley; and Laura S. Sandt, Highway Safety Research Center, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill published Advancing research in transportation and public health: A selection of twenty project ideas from a U.S. research roadmap
• Transportation policies and projects have positive and negative impacts on health.
• A multidisciplinary team developed a research roadmap for transportation and health.
• Topics include equity, active travel, transit, metrics, new technologies, pandemic.
• Faculty and students may use identified topics to guide their future research.
Transportation policies and projects have multiple impacts on health. Research on these impacts can help promote positive and reduce adverse health consequences of decisions made by transportation agencies.
In 2019 the U.S. National Cooperative Highway Research Program published a research roadmap for transportation and public health based on an extensive literature search and key informant interviews. The roadmap identified 44 research gaps and 122 research needs on a wide range of relevant topics. From this list, using pre-established criteria including specificity, equity, potential impact, and long-term usefulness, we selected 20 topics suitable for further research especially in academic settings.
We present the questions, context, and possible research approach for each of the 20 topics. These topics cover issues ranging from integrating equity into performance measures and developing forecasting models for active travel to incorporating health questions into routine household travel surveys and examining health impacts of autonomous vehicles. We added questions on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on transportation.
This list will be useful to faculty, researchers, and students as they consider topics for research in transportation and public health. Results of research on these topics could influence transportation decisions in policy making, planning and community participation, capital programming, project design, and implementation. Future leaders of transportation agencies, transportation providers, and advocacy organizations may be more likely to consider transportation policies that incorporate a health perspective if their training includes research findings that increase their awareness of the health impacts of these policies.