COVID-19 Info | Information sur la COVID-19 | COVID-19 Vaccine Vaccine Receipt | COVID-19 Self-Assessment
🔍 Search
  • Follow us:
Sign In FR

Middlesex-London Health Unit

Inner Nav

Community Design - Transportation

The design of neighbourhood streets, buildings and facilities can influence everyday transportation choices to places such as: 1


Active Transportation

Active transportation means using human power to get to places. Active transportation plays an important role in supporting active, healthy lifestyles.

Places that have high levels of people traveling by foot, bicycle and other active modes encourage social interaction and connectedness.2 Public transit is considered a form of active transportation since every trip begins and ends with either a walk or a bike ride. It is an important active transportation option since it provides equitable access to destinations for people who do not have motor vehicles.3

Examples of active of transportation:

Walking In-line skating
Cycling Skateboarding
Public transit Wheel chairing
Cartoon graphic of a busy street


Walk Score

Is your neighbourhood walkable? Use Walk Score to find out. 

Walk Score →


Transit route


Start planning →


What encourages active transportation?

In general, the following features encourage the use of active transportation:

  • Compact mix of land uses (services and destinations located close to each other)
  • Housing density with a variety of housing options
  • Connections to places where people want to go
  • Defined walking and cycling routes
  • Sidewalks and multi-use pathways
  • Cycling facilities (bicycle lanes, bicycle parking)
  • Reduced speed limits
  • Traffic calming measures (speed humps, road narrowing)
  • Convenient public transit service 2

Specific design measures and strategies play a key role in supporting active transportation:

Complete Streets

Complete streets put people first by being designed for all ages, abilities and modes of travel. Complete streets provide safe and comfortable access for:

  • pedestrians
  • cyclists
  • public transit users
  • mobility impaired individuals
  • motorists 4

Learn more about complete streets: London Complete Streets Design Manual

Smart Growth America found that complete streets:

  • increased walking and cycling
  • increased public transit trips
  • reduced automobile trips
  • reduced collisions and injuries
  • increased employment levels
  • increased numbers of new businesses
  • increased property values 5


Having a community that is well connected to places where people want to travel supports walking, cycling and public transit use.

Having a high number of intersections in a given area provides more route options from which people can choose. By providing easy access to a variety of safe, direct and alternative routes between destinations, people are more likely to choose active modes of travel.

A well connected community, where people use active transportation, results in reduced motor vehicle use and provides environmental and health benefits such as:

  • improved air quality
  • reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • reduced impact on climate change
  • improved respiratory and cardiovascular health 6, 7, 8

Attractive Environments

People are more likely to use active transportation when routes are attractive, safe for travel and include features such as:

  • pleasant streetscapes (trees, plants, street furniture, lighting)
  • routes and destinations that are both functional and fun (services, shopping, recreation)
  • high quality public spaces (parks, pedestrian plazas, art / cultural features)

Road Safety

Use of active transportation is increased when road safety is improved for all road users, especially pedestrians and cyclists. Improved road safety is accomplished by combining road safety strategies such as:

  • Engineering - physical design and layout of transportation infrastructure
  • Education - information on how to use transportation infrastructure with various types of transportation options, i.e. walking, cycling, driving, etc.
  • Enforcement - laws that promote safe travel for all modes of transportation

Examples of road safety measures that support active transportation include:

  • sidewalks, multi-use pathways
  • reduced speed limits
  • traffic calming measures (speed humps, road narrowing)
  • various types of pedestrian and cycling facilities (safety islands, traffic control signals, signage, road markings, raised / buffered / protected facilities)

Research indicates that when there are increased numbers of people walking and cycling that motorist behaviour changes such that safety is improved.9

Date of creation: November 24, 2016
Last modified on: May 17, 2022


1Toronto Public Health, City of Toronto Planning, City of Toronto Transportation Services and Gladki Planning Associates. (May 2014). Active City: Designing for Health. Retrieved from
2Canadian Institute of Planners. (2014). Healthy Communities Practice Guide. Retrieved from
3Ontario Professional Planners Institute. (2011). Plain Transit for Planners. Retrieved from
4City of London. (August 2018). London Complete Streets Design Manual. Retrieved from
5Smart Growth America. (2015). Safer Streets, Stronger Economies: Complete Streets project outcomes from across the country. Retrieved from
6Health Effects Institute. (2010). Traffic-Related Air Pollution: A Critical Review of the Literature on Emissions, Exposure, and Health Effects. Retrieved from
7Transport Canada. (2011). Active Transportation in Canada: A resource and planning guide. Retrieved from
8Middlesex-London Health Unit. (2014). Assessment of Vulnerability to the Health Impacts of Climate Change in Middlesex-London. Retrieved from
9Alliance for Biking & Walking: Benchmarking Report. (2016). Bicycling & Walking in the United States. Retrieved from