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Opportunities to Impact Health Equity

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Transportation and Health Equity, Part VII

 

Hopefully by now, you are seeing the connection between transportation and health, mostly through opportunities for physical activity, air quality, and safety. 

You also know that these factors are not evenly distributed around any city (including Portland) and usually the areas that are the worst for health (low walking and biking opportunities, bad air quality, high crash corridors) are in areas where residents have lower incomes, lower education, and higher percentages of communities of color.  Not good.

The City of Portland recognizes this and will be undergoing a number of processes to improve the planning of our great city to integrate health and health equity into the policy and planning processes:

  • The Portland Plan.  The Portland Plan is the City’s strategic plan for the next 25 year.  Remember that postcard with the cranky old lady? How about that adorable kid?  Those were for the Portland Plan.

Health Equity advocates in our city have made health a large part of the conversation in the Portland Plan, and as a result, “Healthy, Connected Neighborhoods” is a strategy.  In addition, there is an “Equity Initiative” that will serve as a foundation to the plan to check that all parts of the plan first look to serve those that have been underserved in the past.  The Portland Plan will serve to guide the Comprehensive Plan, which is the more ‘nuts and bolts’ document which specifies how the city is planned (e.g. curb cuts and setbacks)  Learn more about the Portland Plan and how to get involved at http://www.portlandonline.com/portlandplan/.

  • The Transportation System Plan.  While the mere mention of the Transportation System Plan (aka TSP) might cause some eyes to glaze, it’s a pretty important document.  It directs transportation policy in the city as well as picks the projects on the City’s ‘to-do’ list.  We’re going to be undergoing a big update in 2012 and I’ve been hired to lead a process to engage community partners and review the TSP to make sure we’re integrating health.  The existing document is pretty good but hopefully the 2012/2013 TSP will be better, more digestible, and way healthier!

And with that I’ll take my final bow as a guest blogger on Commuter Central.  I hope you learned a little bit about health equity, the intersections between transportation and health, and how PBOT is trying to make everybody (yes, even you!) a little healthier.  I trust you will pass on this knowledge to your friends, family, and strangers that might be interested in this sort of this in order to keep the conversation going and health equity in your minds.

If you have any more questions about health equity initiatives at PBOT, feel free to drop me a line at sara.schooley@portlandoregon.gov

Photo courtesy of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Info Center

Read the other posts in the series:

Transportation and Health Equity Part 1

Part II: Heath and Equity: What's the problem? 

Part III: Obesity, Race and Equity

Part IV: What Makes us Healthy?

Part V: Can Transportation Help us Live Longer?

Part VI: Your Neighborhood and Your Health

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Spam Prevention In the Pacific Northwest, what state is Portland in?