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Transportation Health Impact Assessment Toolkit

This website is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.

The Healthy Community Design Initiative, also known as the Built Environment and Health Initiative, is no longer a funded program and the information on this website is not being reviewed and updated on a regular basis.


Strategies for Health-Oriented Transportation Projects and Policies
Improve Safety for All Users

Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for people ages 1–34. Pedestrians and bicyclists are at an even greater risk of death from crashes than those who travel by motor vehicle. Evidence suggests that fear of injury discourages the use of such active transportation options as bicycling and walking. Additionally, a resident’s perception of safety is often cited as a reason for not walking, visiting parks and recreation centers, or allowing children to play outside or walk to school. To achieve health outcomes such as increases in physical activity and enhanced social capital of communities, people must feel comfortable in using transportation infrastructure and community spaces.

Strategies recommended in existing Transportation HIAs:

  • Implement traffic-calming measures.
  • Reduce traffic speeds in neighborhoods.
  • Account for pedestrian and bicycle vulnerabilities with streetscape design, placing an emphasis on increased visibility, route signage, and buffer zones.
  • Improve the perceived safety of parks, neighborhoods, trails, and green space.
  • Prevent crime at transit stops.
  • Ensure adequate lighting on roadways, along trails, and in parks.
  • Install emergency call boxes or cameras in parks.
  • Ensure proper sight lines and increase “eyes on the street” to facilitate roadway surveillance.



  • Bhatia, R. and M. Wier (2011). “”Safety in Numbers” re-examined: can we make valid or practical inferences from available evidence?” Accid Anal Prev 43(1): 235-240.

This article cautions against the use of ‘safety in numbers logic” (where more bicyclists and pedestrians using a road will decrease the risk of injury) in transportation policy and planning dialogue, and decision-making.

The report is a meta-analysis of the relationship between changes in speed and road safety.

This systematic review of studies on how lighting affects the crime rate of an area found that in areas where the lighting improved, crime reduced by 22%. This suggests that better lighting can increase how safe people feel using a public space such as a trail or sidewalk.

  • Giles-Corti, B., S. F. Kelty, S. R. Zubrick and K. P. Villanueva (2009). “Encouraging walking for transport and physical activity in children and adolescents: how important is the built environment?” Sports Med 39(12): 995-1009.

A child’s potential exposure to traffic, along with area crime rates, weighs heavily in parental decisions to allow children to play outside or walk or bike to school. Reducing traffic speeds and increasing the number of “eyes-on-the-street” through neighborhood and building design will improve the perception of safety.

  • Jacobsen, P. L. (2003). “Safety in numbers: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling.” Injury Prevention 9(3): 205-209.

Having more people bicycling and walking on a roadway reduces the likelihood of motor vehicle collision.

  • Loukaitou-Sideris, A. (2006). “Is it safe to walk? Neighborhood safety and security considerations and their effects on walking.” Journal of Planning Literature 20(3): 219-232.

This article discusses how the perceived safety of neighborhood surroundings relative to crime, along with the perceived risk of injury from traffic affects physical activity. It includes design and policy interventions to improve neighborhood safety.

  • Retting, R. A., S. A. Ferguson and A. T. McCartt (2003). “A review of evidence-based traffic engineering measures designed to reduce pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes.” Am J Public Health 93(9): 1456-1463.

The article reviews traffic engineering countermeasures that have been shown in scientific literature to reduce the risk of pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes.

In a London Department of Transport study, the risk of pedestrian fatality increased slowly until an impact speed of 30 mph. Beyond 30 mph, the risk of pedestrian fatality increases rapidly.

This report provides the background of the Federal Highway Safety Administration’s plan to improve pedestrian safety.

  • U.S Department of Transportation. Federal Highway Administration. (2008). “Medians and Pedestrian Refuge Areas in Urban and Suburban Areas”. Guidance Memorandum on Consideration and Implementation of Proven Safety Countermeasures. Available at: Accessed on 18 July 2011.

This section of the memorandum provides crash reduction information on medians and pedestrian refuge areas, as well as resources for further information.

This report is a guide to pedestrian needs in assessing roadway safety. A road safety audit is a formal safety performance evaluation of an existing or future roadway or intersection.

  • Wier, M., J. Weintraub, E. H. Humphreys, E. Seto and R. Bhatia (2009). “An area-level model of vehicle-pedestrian injury collisions with implications for land use and transportation planning.” Accid Anal Prev 41(1): 137-145.

This study looked at vehicle-pedestrian injury collisions in San Francisco, California and concluded that traffic volume, employee and resident populations, arterial streets lacking public transit, the amount of commercial use land, poverty rates, and rates of older residents are significant predictors of collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians.


Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Analysis Tool

  • Created by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center and funded by the U.S Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. Available for free download from
  • This tool is used in the development of databases that track location and crash type for traffic crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians. The tool can analyze data and produce reports on crash characteristics.

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  • Page last reviewed: October 19, 2011 (archived document)
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