Policy Factsheet

Transportation Policies

Reasons for Policy

  • Only 27% of students in grades 9-12 get the recommended amount of physical activity per week.1
  • The direct costs of inactivity each year in the US are approximately $24 billion.1
  • Approximately 200,000-300,000 premature deaths per year are due to physical inactivity.1
  • Approximately 40% of children are inhibited from walking or cycling to school because of perceived traffic dangers.2

Community Groups

  • Local Government
  • Local Transportation Departments

Policy Components

  • Making/improving bicycle lanes
  • Adding bicycle racks on buses
  • Require sidewalks in neighborhoods
  • Subsidized transit passes
  • Incentives for car pooling
  • Increase cost of parking

Desired Outcomes

  • Improved air quality due to the reduced use of cars
  • More participation in physical activity
  • Lower rates of obesity and other related health concerns
  • Lower rates of mental health problems

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 3: Insufficient Evidence Available.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

  • There is insufficient evidence on the effectiveness of transportation policies in increasing physical activity. More research is needed.1


  1. Heath G, et al. The effectiveness of urban design and land use and transport policies and practices to increase physical activity: a systematic review. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 2006;3(Suppl 1):S55-S76.  

  2. Giles-Corti B, Kelty SF, Zubrick SR, Villanueva KP (2009). Encouraging walking for transport and physical activity in children and adolescents: How important is built environment? Sports Medicine, 39(12), 995-1009.  

  3. Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.