Your health is influenced by lots of things- genetics, behaviors, and the environment into which you’re born, grow, work, and live.  A “Health Impact Assessment” is a way of assessing and influencing policy or project decisions to improve health.  A simple example is that if your neighborhood has safe, accessible sidewalks or walking or biking paths, you’ll be more likely to be physically active. 

Health Impact Assessments are used alot in Europe- and they’re gaining steam here in the U.S.  Arizona recently completed its very first assessment in July.  We worked with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health on the health impact assessment of the proposed Tempe Modern Street Car, which will be a 3-mile trolley system connecting the current light rail system to Southern Avenue. 

The assessment Team developed comprehensive recommendations that were provided to the City of Tempe for their consideration in planning of the trolley system.  Some of the ideas proposed include: having a bike rental system; adding shade to the walking environment; implementing safe routes to school; identifying sites for additional farmers markets; encouraging supermarkets in underserved area; encouraging community gardens; installing a buffer between sidewalk and arterial streets to make walking safer; installing pedestrian signals; and implementing a 20 minute neighborhood concept for the neighborhoods within the streetcar corridor- so people are more likely to walk or bike.