University of Wisconsin–Madison

Health-Oriented Transportation

It’s difficult to be healthy when the world around you is not. Today, 85 percent of Americans live in metropolitan urban areas where transportation infrastructure, developed for the car, undermines their health.

With the Initiative for Health-Oriented Transportation (HOT), the Global Health Institute aims to improve community health by encouraging walking and bicycling. HOT promotes human and planetary health by advancing sustainable urban transportation design that makes active transportation more accessible and desirable for adults and children.

HOT will help identify which changes to the built environment have the most impact on active travel and health, giving transportation planners and policy makers the best possible evidence they need to design cities that support public health.

What we do

  • A public, online interactive map, HOT-USA, lets users see how active their region is compared with other regions in the U.S. using information from the U.S. National Household Transportation Survey.
  • We’re working on making HOT-USA data widely available for analysis with the statistical software package that we’re customizing in collaboration with the Center for Diet and Activity Research at the University of Cambridge. The package will integrate data on air quality, physical activity, traffic injuries, greenhouse-gas emissions, disease-specific morbidity and mortality and transportation behaviors to generate evidence of how transportation decisions impact health outcomes.
  • We are a partner in the global research program, Complex Urban Systems for Sustainability and Health (CUSSH), funded by the Wellcome Trust, aims to make cities healthier and more environmentally sustainable.
  • Along with the UW’s State Smart Transportation Initiative, we are exploring the relationship between public health, travel behavior and access to safe, active transportation alternatives and how they affect policy and practice.
Three men, two from Ethiopia, and one from Madison stand with two bicycles on Madison's bike path.
GHI Director Jonathan Patz, right, has collaborated with partners across UW-Madison and the world to encourage active transportation to benefit health and the environment. He's shown here with Bahir Dar Mayor Ayenew Belay Engida, middle, and researcher Yimer Degu Ayicheh, left, the Madison bicycle path. They are part of a collaborative project called Bike Friendly Bahir Dar to encourage bicycling in the Ethiopian city.