Transportation Policies in the Eugene Climate and Energy Action Plan (CEAP)

Authors: Upstream Public Health, City of Eugene Office of Sustainability, Community Health Partnership, Lane County Public Health, Heidi Guenin, Leslie Perdue, Mel Rader

Location: Eugene, Oregon, United States

Completion Date: August 2010

HIA Report: Transportation Policies in the Eugene Climate and Energy Action Plan

Summary of the HIA

Proposed Policy or Project

This project examines the health benefits and adverse impacts of transportation recommendations within the Eugene Climate and Energy Action Plan (CEAP). Focusing on a subset of objectives within the CEAP this report analyzes the scientific evidence that links those policies to health issues in Eugene.

Background and Policy Context

In response to increasing concern about global climate change and volatite fuel prices, Eugene's City Council asked staff to develop Eugene's first Community Climate and Energy Action Plan (CEAP) in 2008.

The plan addresses three goals:

  1. reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 10% below 1990 levels by 2020.
  2. reduce community-wide fossil fuel use 50% by 2030.
  3. identify strategies that will help the community adapt to changing climate and increasing fossil fuel prices.

While the plan considers a number of impacts and offers recommendations in 6 areas, the purpose of this HIA is to specifically address the health impacts of the "Land Use and Transportation" objectives of the CEAP.

Policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emission can result in increased physical activity, improved air quality, and few vehicle collisions as less people drive and more decide to walk, bike or take public transit for transportation purposes. These changes may lead to improvements in the health of Eugene's residents by reducing the burden of chronic diseases (such as diabetes and heart disease), improving cardiovascular and respiratory health, and decreasing the rate of traffic-related injuries.

While there is a growing body of research on the potential health implications of climate change, there are only few examples of analysis of the health impacts associated with climate change policy. This is the first HIA conducted on a local Climate Action Plan.

Scope and Methods

The HIA focused on a subset of policies from the "Land Use and Transportation" section of the CEAP that were likely to affect health. The HIA assessed how the objectives and policy actions would impact health through changes in air pollution, physical activity and collisions. Changes in noise level, stress, household budgets and access to healthy food, goods and services will also have important impacts, but analyzing those impacts were outside of the project scope. 

City level data on existing conditions in Eugene were used when available. The group also relied on data from the metropolitan area of Eugene-Springfield and Lane County. Data on existing conditions were collected from a variety of other sources: US Census, US EPA, National Transit Database, Dept of Transportation, Oregon Dept of Environmental Quality, Oregon Dept of Administrative Services, and Oregon Dept of Humam Services. 

A literature review was carried out to find current research on the topic related to each policy action. This assessment includes types of health impacts, but does not assess the magnitude of those impacts because there is a clear lack of prospective data. 

Summary of Findings

While cities across the country are using the 20-minute neighborhood concept, it can be difficult to actually measure this since individuals walk/cycle at different rates. Additionally, just because a destination is nearby doesn't necessarily mean that it is affordable or culturally appropriate for those in the neighborhood. Although this is an imperfect measure, it is a good starting point for planners as the characteristics of such neighborhoods are associated with increased physical activity, decreased collision fatalities and lower levels of air pollution. 

Eugene residents will benefit from changes that encourage urban density, and vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and low-income, will especially benefit from greater access to affordable housing, retail services, job centers and public transit. Although increased density may also affect health through an incrase in the urban heat island effect. Older adults are especially vulnerable during heat waves, so there is a change that increasing density may adversely impact them and other vulvnerable populations if additional measures to reduce the heat island effect are not taken. 

Decisions/Actions following the release of the HIA

On September 15th, 2010, Eugene's City Council unanimously endorsed Eugene's first Community Climate and Energy Action Plan. 

Click here for more information. 

Products Produced

Number of Pages in Final Report: 
69
Policy Brief: 
No
Website/webpage: 
No

Background Reports

Contact

Heidi Guenin

Eugene
,
Oregon

(503) 284-6390