Don't Miss

Aging and Safe Active Transportation: Issues and Courses of Action for Public Roadway Development
 663 K

Raised Crosswalks and Continuous Sidewalks: "Pedestrian Priority"
 944 K

Registry of recommendations that foster safe and active transport

Health Impact Assessment of the TOD Neighbourhood Project in Sainte-Catherine. Report on potential impacts and recommendations
 2.7 MB

Innovative Municipal Norms Conducive to Safe Active Transportation: Introduction to a Series of Briefing Notes
 597 K


Public Health and Land Use Planning: How Ten Public Health Units are Working to Create Healthy and Sustainable Communities(2011). On the site of The Clean Air Partnership.

Interactive map for analyzing the built environment and services in Québec. In French, on the site of the INSPQ.

Environment and Planning - journals. Four journals available on the Environment and Planning website.

Active Transportation Canada (blog).

Report: The built environment: Understanding how physical environments influence the health and well-being of First Nations peoples living on-reserve. On the site of the NCCAH.

Ideas/Best Practices/Examples
Examples Bank. Categories: Intersections, Stretches of Road, Bicycle Parking. On the site Fietsberaad (Netherlands) in English.

Planning By Design: a healthy communities handbook. On the site of Ontario's Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

3 Way Street Video by Ron Gabriel. On the site

StreetsWiki. Wiki site for transportation, urban environmental, and public space issues.

Revisiting Donald Appleyard's Livable Streets. Video on the site "Documenting Livable Streets Worldwide".

National Complete Streets Coalition. (United States)

National Association of City Transportation Officials. (United States) Features a series of best practice videos.

Cities: successes at increasing public transit /active transport use and reduction of car use.

New York.

Paris. (Transportation section in French only.)

Designing streets as public spaces in northern climate cities. Video of a public conference organized by Montréal's Urban Ecology Centre in February, 2010. On the site of WebTV.COOP.


Olivier Bellefleur

Built Environment
In the public health sector, we occasionally hear the expression "making the healthy choice the easy choice". This statement goes to the heart of the debate over structural determinants of health versus personal choice as causes for ill health. Making the healthy choice the easy choice effectively neutralizes the debate by pointing to the importance of structural elements in individual decision-making, and it points to the role of not just the public health sector but all citizens in influencing the way in which our society builds itself.

Indeed, it is not always the easiest, most readily available, lowest cost, most advertised, or most subsidized choice that is the most favourable to health. In many sectors, we find that making the healthy choice is increasingly difficult. 

Image of escalators and stairs © Auke Holwerda     

Many are now asking how and why things came to be that way, and are looking at how structural factors influence people's choices.

It is possible for public policies to take the potential or likely health effects of different options into account, thereby bringing health as a value into the equation. We could continue to focus on personal choice as the locus of health promotion, but we would be missing an important dimension. 

This kind of thinking applies to the built environment, or the ensemble of buildings, transportation systems, access to healthy food, housing, how we spatially organize our lives around home, recreation, workplaces, shopping, schools, and so on. The way in which our spaces have come to be structured (both literally, in terms of the buildings, passable routes, barriers, etc.; as well as in the patterns we tend to adopt as participants in particular communities) can be examined in order to determine if the spaces we inhabit will tend to favour health or not. These spaces can strongly influence the tacit choices we make during our daily routines. Many have cumulative effects on health, and many are replicated daily by millions of Canadians.

The built environment can have a positive or negative effect on health (chronic illnesses, mental health, respiratory illnesses, sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, etc.) inasmuch as it is tied to many of the social determinants of health (air quality, noise exposure, modes and speed of travel, injecting drugs in public, access to healthy food, etc.). 

Public policies that inform the built environment and its determinants are many and diverse: housing policies, traffic policies, urban or regional planning policies, etc. 

Innovative municipal norms promoting safe active transportation
The NCCHPP will publish a series of papers documenting innovative municipal norms that have the potential to help create environments promoting safe, active transportation by changing the design or organization of public roadway networks. Click here to learn more.

Traffic calming 
Certain public policies, by informing the built environment, influence the movement of goods and people. In particular, we have developed a project on traffic calming. Various documents are that cover multiple dimensions of traffic calming are now available. Click here to learn more.

Healthy Canada by Design
The NCCHPP is a partner the Healthy Canada by Design coalition. The main goal of this coalition is to inspire change in the ways in which the built environment is currently developed, by influencing the policies that inform it. Click here to learn more

Photo Credits:
© Auke Holwerda 
For information about how to legally obtain these images,
click here.

We would like to hear from you
Please send us a note to share your comments on our work, or to let us know about potential projects, ideas, interests, or new resources relating to healthy public policy.

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The production of the NCCHPP website has been made possible through a financial contribution from the Public Health Agency of Canada.