Health Cobenefits and Transportation-Related Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the San Francisco Bay Area

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We quantified health benefits of transportation strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE).


Statistics on travel patterns and injuries, physical activity, fine particulate matter, and GHGE in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, were input to a model that calculated the health impacts of walking and bicycling short distances usually traveled by car or driving low-emission automobiles. We measured the change in disease burden in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) based on dose-response relationships and the distributions of physical activity, particulate matter, and traffic injuries.


Increasing median daily walking and bicycling from 4 to 22 minutes reduced the burden of cardiovascular disease and diabetes by 14% (32 466 DALYs), increased the traffic injury burden by 39% (5907 DALYS), and decreased GHGE by 14%. Low-carbon driving reduced GHGE by 33.5% and cardiorespiratory disease burden by less than 1%.


Increased physical activity associated with active transport could generate a large net improvement in population health. Measures would be needed to minimize pedestrian and bicyclist injuries. Together, active transport and low-carbon driving could achieve GHGE reductions sufficient for California to meet legislative mandates.

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