Joining Impact models of transport with spatial measures of the Built Environment (JIBE)

  • Giles-Corti, Billie (Primary Chief Investigator (PCI))
  • Woodcock, James (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Zapata Diomedi, Maria Belen (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Gunn, Lucy (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Kamruzzaman, Liton (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Both, Alan (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Singh, Dhirendra (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Knibbs, Luke (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Turrell, Gavin (Chief Investigator (CI))

Project: Research

Project Details

Project Description

Creating healthy, sustainable, ‘liveable’ cities is a priority in Australia and the UK. The design of cities has a major effect on sustainable lifestyles and behavioural (e.g. walking, cycling, and public transport) and environmental (e.g. air and noise pollution) risk factors for major NCDs.
By better estimating the health impacts of transport associated with policy relevant interventions, we can support city planning that contributes to reducing NCDs and health inequities.
Building upon, and expanding established collaborations, this proposal brings together Australian and UK teams with complementary skills and expertise, undertaking high impact policy- relevant research examining: 1) associations between the built environment (BE) and transport and other health-behaviours; and 2) simulating the health and economic impacts of changes in how people travel. Our and others work shows that BE attributes including street connectivity, density, access to destinations (e.g. shops, transit); and land use diversity can encourage active lifestyles and deter private car travel. A growing body of simulation studies complements this evidence-base, identifying substantial health benefits of BE scenarios that facilitate active travel, along with potential co-benefits and trade-offs in terms of air pollution and road injuries. However, to date, simulation studies have typically lacked the spatial and sociodemographic detail to more accurately study: 1) BE-related health exposures at smaller area level geographies; 2) the effect on specific population groups (e.g. disadvantaged groups); and 3) potential scenarios based on evidenced-informed spatial measures of the BE.
Independently, our teams have been working on overcoming the following challenges: 1) creating, testing and mapping policy-relevant evidence of BE attributes associated with health, wellbeing, and active travel (Liveability Indicators); 2) microsimulation exposure models, e.g. physical activity, air pollution (METAHIT and Melbourne Travel Demand Model); 3) propensity models for transport behaviour (Propensity to Cycle Tool); and 4) including more health pathways (METAHIT noise).
To be co-designed with land use and transport policy-makers in both countries, this project advances the methods and tools required to quantify the health and health-related equity impacts of policy-relevant BE scenarios in Australia and England. By bringing together the Healthy Liveable Cities research program at RMIT (lead Giles-Corti), Urban Planning and Design program at Monash Univeristy, the Public Health Modelling Program at the MRC Epidemiology Unit (lead Woodcock), the Centre for Environment, Sustainability and Health (University of Leicester), and the Centre for Environmental Policy (Imperial) and respective policy-maker collaborators, we are uniquely positioned to generate policy-relevant and scientifically rigorous evidence that informs the creation of healthy and equitable cities in Australia and the UK.
MRC and NHMRC-funded projects METAHIT and Urban Liveability provide the foundation for this collaboration:
• In METAHIT (2017-2021) Woodcock and colleagues are developing new methods and models for health impact assessment of transport for England (including physical activity, traffic injuries, air pollution, and noise) for city regions and sub-geographies.
• In Urban Liveability studies (2014-2021) Giles-Corti and colleagues have developed, assessed and mapped policy-relevant BE measures associated with transport mode choice across 21 Australian cities; and are now creating a simulation model to assess behaviour changes associated with active transport interventions.
In JIBE we will:
1) Co-design the study with policy makers in both countries;
2) Apply and assess the Urban Liveability spatial methods to cities in England;
3) Apply the METAHIT health simulation approach to Melbourne;
4) Improve the METAHIT method through better spatial representation of travel patterns & exposures (e.g. greenspace);
5) Combine (2), (3), and (4) in the simulation of changes in the BE, testing impacts on travel behaviours, health outcomes, and equity.
Effective start/end date1/05/2030/04/23


  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Australia): AUD814,558.00