Measuring what we value

How MPOs are prioritizing health


A collection of strategies for MPOs

This package of case studies, produced in partnership with the American Public Health Association, showcases a range of strategies that metro area planning agencies can use to strengthen the local economy, improve public health outcomes for all of their residents, promote social equity and better protect the environment.

CDC APHA health case studies

These five short case studies extend our previous work on data-driven decision-making for choosing transportation projects.

Download the full package here or individual case studies below.

A growing number of the metro leaders, elected officials and citizens we talk to are asking questions like: can the people in neighborhoods more likely to be unhealthy easily get out for a walk or bike ride without having to traverse dangerous streets? Do our regional planners effectively consider the impacts on regional air quality as we choose which projects to build? Is the area putting forward the most competitive possible projects to win limited state or federal funding for walking and biking?

A handful of metro areas have found smart, data-driven ways to better conceive, select and build the transportation projects that can help address these looming questions.

Promoting health and economic prosperity through data-driven decision-making

Citrus Heights community center groundbreakingUsing a lens of improved economic performance by improving public health, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) adopted several health- and social equity-related performance measures into a rigorous, data-driven process for choosing transportation projects, resulting in more projects that make it safer and more convenient to walk or bicycle.

Download the Sacramento case study. (pdf)

Healthy, safe & prosperous by design: Building complete streets

Prompted by a need for safer streets, the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) spearheaded an effort to build regional consensus and political support for planning, designing and building more complete streets projects. As a result, 16 of the MPO’s 31 jurisdictions have adopted Complete Streets resolutions or guidelines, and the MPO increased funding for active transportation projects, with 90 individual bicycle and pedestrian projects totaling $120 million awarded funding since 2012.

Download the Broward case study. (pdf)

Prioritizing public health benefits through better project evaluation

Nashville missing sidewalksBacked by data from comprehensive health studies and growing public demand to make biking and walking safer and more convenient throughout the region, the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) designed a new scoring and selection process to prioritize transportation projects that can bring health benefits. The MPO’s new approach substantially increased the amount of funding in the their long-term transportation budget dedicated to making it safer and more attractive to walk or ride a bicycle, making strides toward improving the health of the region’s residents.

Download the Nashville case study. (pdf)

Healthy competition: Using data and modeling tools to win funding for active transportation projects

Greensboro sidewalks Guilford CollegeTo make walking and biking safer, more equitable and more convenient in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Greensboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) developed a rigorous evaluation and data-driven selection process to analyze and select the best possible bicycle and pedestrian projects for the metro area’s available funds, and to help the region better compete for the limited, competitive funding controlled by the state.

Download the Greensboro case study. (pdf)

Engaging underserved communities to focus on building more complete streets

The Mesilla Valley MPO built trust and public interest in its planning process by engaging constituents through a nonprofit with an active presence in the community. With this familiar channel of communication in place, the MPO successfully improved public engagement by building a community-led process for expanding active transportation infrastructure in the Las Cruces metro area.

Download the Las Cruces case study. (pdf)

The development of these case studies was made possible through a contract between the American Public Health Association and Transportation for America funded through cooperative agreement 5U38OT000131-03 between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Public Health Association.  The contents of this document are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the American Public Health Association or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read the policy paper

Meant to accompany these five detailed case studies, this paper outlines four policy levers that metro areas can use to increase and improve active transportation projects to meet the demand, decrease health disparities, increase access to opportunities, and strengthen local economies — illustrated by more than 30 short real-life examples.

Need help with implementation?

Transportation for America is working for communities like yours nationwide to get better bang for their transportation buck. We can help with developing performance measures and other policies to improve project selection. Request technical assistance from T4America experts here.

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