Case Studies

Washington: Health Impact Assessments

The Clark County, WA, Public Health Department collaborated with the Department of Community Planning to conduct a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment (HIA) for the County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. Adopted in 2010, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan identifies policies and projects to facilitate cycling and walking. The planning and public-health departments conducted an HIA to discern health impacts associated with the plan and recommend implementation strategies to maximize residents’ health benefits.

First, the planning and public-health department used geographic information systems (GIS) to determine baseline conditions and health impacts to different population groups based on their proximity to infrastructure projects. Then they conducted a literature review to establish relationships between those factors and estimate health impacts. Impacts on children and on other populations at greater risk for obesity were highlighted in the research. The departments interviewed stakeholders and collected public input to guide the HIA process and define how decision-makers would use the HIA. The final report included 11 recommendations to help the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan fully realize its potential health benefits. One recommendation was to create a comprehensive inventory of sidewalks to help prioritize pedestrian projects.

The HIA identified priority projects based on their potential to increase physical activity and reduce health disparities among populations. Clark County then revised its Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan to incorporate, either partially or fully, all 11 of the HIA recommendations.

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.