The goal of my research and practice is to foster inclusive, multi-disciplinary policy communities that address the health, safety, and environmental effects of transportation and land use systems.

My research focuses on four inter-related topics:

Transportation Injury Prevention

Reducing Injury Risk to Pedestrians, Bicyclists, and Vulnerable Road Users

In the U.S., traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people up to about age 35. Pedestrians, bicyclists, youth, older adults, and racial and ethnic minorities often have the highest risk of being injured in motor vehicle crashes. My research combines methods and data from transportation and public health to quantify differences in injury risk across different populations of travelers. The purpose of the research is to learn how the transportation system distributes hazards and protection across different people so that we can design transportation systems that are safe for everybody.

Road Safety Policy

Ambitious road safety targets such as Sweden's Vision Zero state that no travelers should be seriously injured or killed when they use the transportation system. Expanding on a collaboration with colleagues at the Medical College of Wisconsin that documented differences in transportation injury risk for Wisconsin, we use a technique from public health, the concept of excess mortality, to set evidence-based safety targets. These targets can help reduce overall deaths and injuries by aiming to reduce the differences in travel risk across groups.

Differential Exposure to Traffic Hazards

Research from public health shows that differential exposure to hazards is one mechanism that contributes to poor health and health disparities. The goal of my future research is to learn whether travelers with the highest risk of transportation injury also have higher exposure to traffic hazards. I am interested in the mechanisms, such as residential location and levels of accessibility to protective environments, that contribute to differential exposure.
Arterial Roads, Livability, and Public Health

The Performance of Urban Arterial Corridors and Accessibility, Public Health, and Environmental Outcomes

Arterial roads are a critical piece of the transportation system. They carry high volumes of traffic, serve as trunk routes for transit, and mediate traffic between local streets and freeways. Urban arterials have a complicated relationship to surrounding land uses. Instead of providing only mobility for high-speed traffic, we depend on urban arterials for access to commercial strips and residential subdivisions. This results in roads that concentrate the negative externalities of traffic such as hazards, noise, and air pollution. Yet, arterials are also the object of innovative strategies in corridor planning, traffic management, transit service, and urban design that can improve their performance with respect to accessibility, public health, and environmental outcomes.

I am working on several projects with partners at University of Colorado Denver and the TRB Health and Transportation Subcommittee that aim to improve the livability of urban arterials through policy, design, operations, and management.

Public Participation in Transportation Decision-Making

The Politics of Citizen Involvement in Transportation Planning Processes

Federal, state, and local laws and regulations in the U.S. require opportunities for citizen involvement in transportation planning and project implementation. The most common modes of involvement ask citizens to express their individual preferences about a project. I am interested in how administrative public participation processes in transportation can adapt to include models of citizen participation based on organizing and collective action, instead of only individual expression. In a recent project, I worked with an organized neighborhood in Madison, Wisconsin to learn how they worked both within and outside of official public involvement processes to influence the design of an arterial highway that cut through their neighborhood.

Professional Self-Awareness, Facilitation, and Dialogue in the Classroom

Working with Dr. Jane Hansberry (University of Colorado School of Public Affairs), we investigate whether training in facilitation, dialogue, and group dynamics in the classroom increases students' professional self-awareness. For each of my transportation seminar courses, we have developed a curriculum that emphasizes inclusivity and engagement in the classroom, and we are collecting data about students' perceptions of their own participation, learning, and group dynamics. In class, we relate our first-hand experience of participation to larger discussions about equity, participation, and professionalism in transportation planning. This project is supported by the President's Teaching and Learning Collaborative at the University of Colorado.
Transportation Policy Change

A Transportation Planning Perspective on Health in All Policies

I am interested in transportation policy change, and in particular, how policy communities organize to bring about such change. The movement to include public health considerations in transportation policy agendas is an opportunity to observe this process in action. Public health outcomes cannot improve through health care and surveillance alone, and for this reason health policy experts have urged governments to link public health concerns to other policy agendas (health in all policies).

Transportation is one arena to which public health concerns have been added, but some issues, such as localized air quality problems and the safety of vulnerable populations, still receive relatively less attention. I am interested in two aspects of this problem. First, how do local communities, particularly environmental justice communities, advocate to make public health issues salient in transportation policy agendas? Second, what are the effects of the public health sector's direct involvement in transportation on transportation policies, plans, and agendas? I am currently working with colleagues at the University of Colorado School of Public Health to evaluate one such initiative by Kaiser Permanente Colorado Community Benefit (the Walk and Wheel program) that aims to increase walking and bicycling in communities and worksites along the Front Range in Colorado.