The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) conducted an HIA to address a proposed policy in San Francisco that would charge a fee for driving in congested areas during AM/PM rush hours and use the revenue to support transportation infrastructure and services. The HIA analyzed potential health effects of two scenarios: city plans for growth without new policies such as congestion pricing and city plans that do include congestion pricing and public-transit enhancements. Health effects include impacts on active transportation, air pollution, and pedestrian and cyclist injury. The HIA found that planning for growth without new policies would likely have negative health effects resulting from air pollution and would lead to more pedestrians and cyclists hit by vehicles. The HIA found that including congestion pricing in city plans for growth would likely reduce negative health impacts due to air pollution and collisions, and would promote active transportation. The HIA found no inequitable health effects on low-income, elderly or young populations in the plan to include congestion pricing.
The HIA made several recommendations, including increasing the congestion pricing fees where they can reduce health risks, investing in traffic calming along arterials in and near the road-pricing zone, and investing in walking and biking infrastructure to encourage trips by foot and by bike into and out of the road-pricing zone.
The Road Pricing HIA, completed in 2011, led to improved inter-agency coordination between SFDPH and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) and the inclusion of health considerations in other transportation projects. For example, SFCTA and SFDPH coordinated work on the Bus Rapid Transit projects being planned for San Francisco’s Van Ness Avenue and Geary corridors, both of which have high baseline densities of pedestrian injury. SFDPH and SFCTA coordination on these high pedestrian injury corridors resulted in targeted improvements in the projects’ designs. New interagency collaborations on transportation projects and policies continue to emerge, including the recent adoption of Vision Zero – with the goal of zero traffic deaths by 2024 – by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.
This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.