• Transportation refers to ways to get from one place to another such as walking, cycling, wheeling, using public transit, or driving.
  • Different modes of transportation are important to universal design and health.13,37,38
  • Universal design aspects related to transportation include: inclusivity of diverse ages, mobilities, abilities, disabilities, socioeconomic status, and flexibility of use. 
  • Transportation options in a healthy community should be safe, affordable, and promote equitable access and use for all levels of mobility.13
  • Transportation greatly influences overall accessibility within a community and helps to connect neighbourhoods, communities, and municipalities.2,3,7-9,12,13,16,24-32
  • Encouraging active transportation over vehicle-use provides co-benefits to physical wellbeing and climate change protection.1-3,7,8,12,13,16,24-27,33

Transportation is a critical factor that influences how people move and interact within their neighbourhoods and broader communities. It is an essential factor that creates opportunities and experiences to support people’s wellbeing. Investments into transportation infrastructure and maintenance can benefit the individual, collective, and overall economic health of a community.

Example Criteria for Transportation Design

What modes of transportation are available?

Universal design principles can, and should, be applied to all areas of healthy homes and communities, including transportation. Within the scope of transportation, accessibility for all ages, mobilities, abilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds should be considered, with multiple  transportation modes and options available.13

How well connected is the transportation network?

A well-designed and connected transportation network provides access to social and economic opportunities within and across communities.34

How sustainable are transportation modes for all seasons?

Transportation modes are vulnerable to extreme weather.35 Transportation infrastructure and how it may be impacted by current or future variations in temperature or precipitation are important for infrastructure reliability and longevity. This includes adaptation for extreme climates or weather events.

How is transportation infrastructure maintained?

Transportation infrastructure must be properly maintained for efficient year-round usage by pedestrians, people using mobility aids, cyclists, and vehicles.

  Environmental Considerations

Climate change will affect transportation across urban and rural communities. Transportation infrastructure is vulnerable to extreme weather.35 By understanding climate change and its potential effects, there is an opportunity to adapt our transportation networks with more sustainable and resilient options.

Economic Recovery Considerations

Active transportation involving multiple modes of travel promotes economic co-benefits.13 A well connected and complete transportation network promotes opportunities for economic growth by allowing people to travel within and across different communities.34 In addition, increased traffic safety through well-designed transportation networks lowers injury-related healthcare and societal costs.13,36

Pandemic Recovery Considerations

Active transportation networks may be more resilient to pandemics.4 COVID-19 is creating a transportation mode-shift from public transit to active transportation modes such as cycling, wheeling, and walking, but also toward private vehicle usage.4 With a well-designed neighbourhood, people are able to walk, wheel or cycle to nearby amenities and services rather than relying on public transportation or private vehicle use.4

Did you know?

Following the onset of the pandemic, more people reported walking or riding their bikes to work than taking public transit. Private vehicle commuting among working Canadians decreased from 75% to 67%; transit use dropped from 13% to 3%.39

Key transportation considerations for:

Consider what types of transportation options are available in the neighbourhood (e.g., public transit stops, biking lanes, sidewalks) and the extent to which they are integrated with one another. How could these opportunities support or improve your wellbeing?

Consider how the availability and accessibility of different transportation modes close to residential properties increases their value, and their appeal to different buyers or renters. If your clients are over 65, consider whether the community is served by a seniors assisted transportation program such as the Drive Happiness non-profit society, which serves over 50 areas in Alberta.40

Consider relative neighbourhood connectivity through different modes of transportation. In rural areas, very few communities have bus or taxi services making it challenging to work and live without access to a private vehicle. Consider how planning decisions can help connect rural residents to transportation options that enhance their quality of life.41

Consider consulting with municipalities, communities, local organizations and businesses, and residents to develop guidelines and policies for transportation development. Take a look at Calgary’s Transportation Plan (CTP) which demonstrates a sustainable growth approach in developing a long-term mobility plan for the City of Calgary.42 Additionally, they produce monitoring reports every four years on key indicators to track their progress in achieving the goals set out under the Municipal Development Plan and the Transportation Plan.43

Consider the economic, social, and environmental co-benefits of investing in transit networks.44 Decarbonizing transit fleets can help achieve climate goals, create jobs, and support fair mobility options for citizens.44 Look to incorporate on-demand transit options for rural and urban settings, such as the Town of Cochrane’s COLT project (Cochrane On-demand Local Transit).45

Consider an iterative transportation network strategy that is flexible and revised regularly to reflect the changing citizen needs and priorities. Examples such as Edmonton’s Transit Strategy46 and Metro Vancouver’s Transit-Oriented Communities Guideline47, illustrate shifts that aim to build more transit-friendly neighbourhoods and foster inclusion through multiple transit service types.46 These examples showcase strategies that aim to build more transit-oriented, sustainable, and resilient neighbourhoods through efficient and cost-effective transit service types.47


Explore the other key factors