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Tools and evidence to create change

Watch Mel and Lucy discuss a tool that calculates the health benefits that come from swapping car trips with walking and cycling.
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Hi, Lucy. Thank you so much for joining us today. It’s great to have you here and a part of this conversation. I’d like to introduce you, Dr. Lucy Gunn, a senior research fellow here at the Centre for Urban Research, to everyone listening. Thank you for your time today. Thanks for having me, Melanie. Now, I’m really interested to talk to you a little bit more about transport and health because I don’t think it’s something that people often put together. That’s definitely my experience, and I’m wondering if you’ve had that same experience, too? A little bit, Melanie.
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I don’t think people realise that there’s a little bit of health benefit that comes from the everyday walking that they do when going to the train station or catching a bus or a tram. I think it’s quite important to acknowledge this. No, I think it’s great. And I do think that often you find that people in transport think about transport. People in health think about health. They think about illness, prevention of health, but they don’t put those two together. I noticed with the new tool that you have developed– I thought, could you talk a little bit more about the Transport Health Assessment Tool for Melbourne, and why you’ve developed that tool? What was the reason behind it?
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There’s a few reasons actually, Melanie, and there’s probably too many to talk about today. But one of the key reasons was that we wanted to be able to measure it the health benefits that come from walking or cycling, or that combination of both. And in particular, in countries or cities like Melbourne, which are huge, where people do use their cars, it’s really important to get some of those cars off the road and to get some people walking and cycling where there is a health benefit. So the tool itself is picking up on those health benefits, and it measures it in a nice, easy, and accessible way. Yeah.
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And I’m sure that this is going to be applicable for cities all across the world. And it’s really hard to take something that’s really complex and make it easy. Was that something you were thinking about in the development of the tool? Yes, absolutely. I think making it accessible was actually a key part of it. These models have existed for a little while, and we’ve published on them in an academic sense for a while. But making it readily accessible for a broad audience is pretty key to getting it factored into the kinds of policies and infrastructure plans that are out there.
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I think one of the key things about health is that what improves it the most is actually delivered by other sectors other than health– so planning an infrastructure, in particular. And this tool was really there to help calculate the health benefits so it could be used for reporting purposes to help improve the kind of decisions that we make at these very high levels. So you really try to make it easy for people to take research, to apply it in practise. And is this the audience then? Where you’re thinking about policy makers and so on? Yes, primarily we were, but the tool itself is so easy to access. It can be used by others.
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And actually, we’ve had quite a bit of interest from just people who are interested in this topic and who want to be able to know about these health benefits just for their own purposes. That’s fantastic. And I hope you are the authentic researcher, and you are practicing what you preach. Very much so, Melanie. I catch the train and tram all the time. And I ride my bike to work, generally speaking. Fantastic. You’re the people we want to be planning our cities. So thank you very much for your time today. Thanks very much for having me, Melanie.

There are emerging tools that are designed specifically to create change in how we plan and develop transport and mobility.

THAT-Melbourne

In the video, Mel and Lucy discuss the new Transport Health Assessment Tool for Melbourne (THAT-Melbourne) which calculates the health benefits that come from swapping car trips with walking, cycling or a combination of both.

Design and development of the tool

The tool was designed to increase our understanding of the implications and impact that transport modes have on health. Although the website and scenario testing looks quite simple, results are based on complex modelling to calculate the health benefits.

The tool was developed in partnership with policymakers interested in understanding the health and economic impacts of active transport and captures increases in physical activity based on active transport with simulated health outcomes using Health-Adjusted Life Years (HALYs).

The tool was designed for government, policymakers and urban dwellers to measure health impacts associated with increased physical activity due to replacing short car trips under 10km by walking and cycling in Melbourne. These health impacts are assessed through 20 different scenarios.

Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT)

A similar tool developed by the WHO called the Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) estimates the value of reduced mortality from walking and cycling.

Both the HEAT and THAT-Melbourne tools facilitate evidence-based decision making important for planning healthy and liveable cities.

Your Task

Do you know of any other tools for creating change in how we plan and develop transport and mobility? Briefly describe their role, function and usability.

By adding to the comments section below you will be able to learn from each other.

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City Liveability: The Intersections of Place, Mobility, and Health

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