Skip main navigation

Mobility, access and healthy cities indicators

A woman checks her phone next to a screen with data
© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility

Prioritising public transport and active transport is critical for healthy cities and healthy people. Fortunately, there are many ways that public and active transport are now being considered in urban planning and policy making.

As we explored on step 1.6, transport provides connection to education, employment, social relationships and local services. However, motor vehicle policy and thinking have dominated over the healthier modes of active and public transport. The challenge is that they need policy planning support.

Tools that can help influence policy

There are many tools and frameworks designed to show the direct impact between transport and health in cities.

The WHO European Healthy Cities Network have developed a compendium of resources to support cities seeking to improve health and well-being for all. The compendium includes a number of tools related to transport and mobility, including:

These tools are based on sophisticated modelling and are designed to reveal the direct impact between transport and health in cities.

Indicators that can help influence policy

The role of indicators can be useful in influencing the policy on public transport and active transport modes in contexts often dominated by the private motor vehicle.

Investigating neighbourhoods

Indicators can be used to investigate neighbourhoods, to understand who lives in the area, what transport they use and where they go, for example travel diaries and Census information; and what transport services and infrastructure they have locally available.

These sorts of indicators are measured across Australian cities by the Australian Urban Observatory and include both public transport and walkability.

A city can also be measured according to bikeability or cycleability, however there is some way to go before a perfect bikeability index is agreed upon.


Other indicators related to mobility and healthy cities connect to equity. Access to transport might be good in some neighbourhoods across a city and poorer in other areas, or services might be more frequent in one area compared to another. Indicators can be very helpful in identifying these differences.

Similarly, survey based data have been used to develop transport limitation indicators, that ask people if their everyday lives have been limited, due to poor access to transport.

Image by: twenty20photos (via Envato Elements)

Economic value

In addition, tools like the Health Economic Assessment Tool and the Transport Health Assessment Tool, can be linked to walking and cycling indicators, to make a strong case for the economic and health implications of walking and cycling. We explore this further on Step 3.2.

Bringing it all together

Active transport modes need to be supported by better infrastructure. Ideally this includes footpaths and protected cycleways linking to local services and shops, shaded with cooling street trees, and well maintained and easy to use for all ages and mobilities. All this made available in areas with low vehicle speeds.

There are many ways that transport affects quality of life and plenty of indicators to help with the development and evaluation of sustainable transport methods.

Image by: westend61 (via Envato Elements)
© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility
This article is from the free online

Urban Mobility for Liveability

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now