Health and Transportation, a Critical Intersection

on .

From the Official Blog of DOT Secretary Ray LaHood

For many of us, transportation is about getting where we need to go. For American businesses, transportation is about getting goods to markets. At DOT, we think about transportation in both ways---but we can't stop there. We've also been working closely with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make sure that health is part of the transportation conversation.

And we were pleased to partner with HHS and the CDC yesterday for a White House Roundtable on Health and Transportation.

We know that the transportation choices we make play an important role in building and maintaining healthy communities. For example, safer roadways and traffic patterns reduce crashes. Streets where walkers and bikers are protected from motor vehicles encourage people to get more exercise as part of their daily routines. Increasing the transportation options available in a community helps reduce congestion and air pollution even as it ensures that communities have access to necessary services like full-service grocery stores and doctors' offices.

That's why we brought a wide range of experts together to talk about how to build communities that support healthy, active living through coordinated transportation and health policies. Yesterday's roundtable, "Health and Transportation in the Built Environment," featured representatives from the health, wellness, livability, transportation planning, public transportation, walking and biking, complete streets, accessibility, environmental, and injury prevention communities.
Therese McMillan, Deputy Federal Transit Administrator began by emphasizing the importance of coordination between agencies responsible for health and transportation.

We were also pleased to have on hand Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff for First Lady Michelle Obama. She reminded participants about how their work fits in with the ongoing mission of Let’s Move Cities, Towns, and Counties, and she encouraged everyone to continue doing what they can to add biking, walking and accessibility options across the country.

Throughout yesterday's roundtable, participants talked about coordinating resources, using data to inform decisions, and looking carefully for opportunities to create healthier communities through transportation choices. The importance of collaboration resurfaced throughout the day.

The fact that we're having important conversations like yesterday's is a terrific development. But when it comes to the critical intersection of health and transportation, we cannot be content with talk. So in closing the day's activities, Mary Beth Bigley of the Surgeon General's office charged each participant to take at least one action building on the lessons shared by their colleagues.

At DOT we've already been hard at work partnering with HUD and EPA to help build livable communities. And as we begin implementing the new transportation legislation known as MAP-21, we look forward to working with our partners to build transportation options that provide safe, accessible, healthy communities.