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Two Way Street: Public Health and Transportation Planning

Public health and transportation professionals have a mutual interest in promoting and improving cycling and walking opportunities in Ontario, and as such are natural partners in this work. However, some challenges exist in intersectoral efforts, including different skills, expectations, and scenarios of practice. The purpose of this project is to undertake systematic analysis about ways to maximize public health and transportation collaboration in active transportation. This webpage provides findings from research undertaken by the project team, as well as additional resources on how to maximize partnership opportunities between public health and transportation.

What is the public health connection to transportation?

Everyone in a community needs to get around. How we get around can impact our health in many different ways.

Chronic disease prevention & healthy weights: Multi-modal/active transportation provides opportunities to integrate physical activity into daily living. However, in order for people to use active transportation, the transportation network needs to provide safe, connected and accessible options for walking and cycling.  More active people = less chronic disease and obesity

CO2 emissions and air quality: Providing more opportunities for people to use active transportation reduces greenhouse gas emissions and can contribute to protecting the community from impacts of climate change and extreme weather events such as flooding or ice storms. Reducing motor vehicle travel also contributes to improved air quality  and less noise

Connected communities: Creating a connected multi-modal transportation network that links all modes e.g. car to transit to walking enables people of all ages and abilities to get around and access services, work, school

Road safety: Roads should be designed and built to be safe for all users. Pedestrians and cyclists are most vulnerable road users, and prevention of injuries is an important public health concern..

Social and Health Equity: Not everyone can drive. Age, disability, choice or affordability can all keep people from owning and operating a car. Ensuring everyone has a safe, convenient, accessible way to get to where they need to go is an equity matter; everyone deserves to be able to access to health care/services, employment, education etc. Also, often lower income areas have less infrastructure for walking and cycling, as well as poorer air quality and more noise.

Completed Resources

Additional Resources

Public Health and Environmental Assessments 101

The Environmental Assessment process is an opportunity for Public Health to influence infrastructure projects for positive health outcomes. However, in a survey conducted by the OPHA Built Environment Workgroup in 2017, many health units in Ontario identified low levels of knowledge about how the EA process works and how to effectively contribute, while also expressing interest in increasing their involvement.

This 4-part webinar series is intended to provide public health professionals with an introduction to the function of EAs, how the process works, why public health should contribute, and how to provide effective input. The content will speak to both Class and Individual EAs and will provide case studies that illustrate successful public health participation in the EA process. Time for questions and answers will be included in each webinar.

Webinar #1 – Introduction to Environmental Assessments and Role for Public Health

October 24, 2018, 12 – 1 pm

  • Build awareness and understanding of why public health should be participating in the EA process and what we can contribute
  • Provide orientation to EAs and EA process (both Individual and Class)


  • Lorenzo Mele, Advisor – Healthy Design, Peel Region Health Services
  • Greg Jenish, Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks

Webinar #2 – Building Effective Public Health Participation in Environmental Assessments

December 11, 2018, 12 – 1 pm

This webinar will be focusing on the legislative structure of EAs and will identify areas for public health engagement in the process as well as describing the steps for making public health input most useful. Health Impact Assessments as a framework will also be discussed.

  • Identify steps for public health to engage in the EA process
  • Build an understanding of how to effectively frame/position public health input
  • Introduce Health Impact Assessments as a framework for public health input


  • Sabbir Saiyed, Ph.D., P.Eng., Manager, Transportation System Planning, Transportation Division, Region of Peel
  • Faiza Waheed, Ph.D., Environmental Risk Analyst and Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Specialist

Webinar #3 – Case Studies – Transportation

February 28, 2019

In this session we’ll explore the Region of Peel – Public Health approach for participating in EA’s through a road improvement project – case study – to illustrate how collaboration with Public Works and Traffic Engineering is setting a new standard for incorporating health priorities into the planning and design of the built environment.

This webinar will enable you to:

  • Appreciate the merits of public health’s participation with the review of terms of reference for the EA, providing input to the scope of the work at the beginning and during key stages of the study
  • Learn how conducting a physical walk route with members of the community enhances public engagement
  • Understand how the use of a Walking Audit (assessment tool) developed by Peel Public Health is helping with decision-making by identifying areas of concern and opportunities from a public health perspective

Webinar #4 – Putting the health in EAs: the how-tos of a ‘health assessment’

June 13, 2019 

This short presentation will focus on the steps of how to conduct or participate in a health assessment as part of an EA (or as a standalone). The aim is to highlight some of the questions that should be asked when deciding whether to get involved in an EA, and how to effectively participate once health is at the table.


Interested in getting involved? Cet in touch with us! 
Sue Shikaze (