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Transport, Health and Urban Design

For policy makers, urban designers/planners, and transport planners who shape our rapidly expanding cities, minimising exposure to health risks while maintaining or enhancing the mobility and accessibility of city residents needs to be a priority. The structure of a city and especially the local neighbourhood greatly influence a resident’s experiences and opportunities, which in turn impacts their health and wellbeing, and ultimately the social, economic and environmental impact of the city.

The aim of the Transport, Health and Urban Design Research Hub (THUD) is to explore the effects of urban form and transport on the health of the residents of cities.

During its early stages, the Hub will focus on two research themes:

New Urban Access and Mobility

New urban access and mobility encompasses elements associated with innovation in the planning and delivery of public transport, innovations associated with safe, inclusive and sustainable transport as well as exploring the institutional and governance requirements to achieve a reformed agenda at the local, state and federal-levels. This will identify approaches (including policy, planning and governance) that will lead to healthier and more sustainable urban environments. Specifically, the theme’s objectives include:

  • innovation in planning and delivery of public transport both at the local and cross-city levels
  • accessibility and land-uses that are conducive to health and wellbeing
  • innovation in safe and sustainable transport
  • identifying and seeking solutions to institutional and political barriers to healthy and sustainable urban mobility in Australian cities

Urban Design, Walkability and Health

Public health challenges such as premature deaths due to excess weight and obesity have been shown to be associated with city-design and levels of physical activity of its residents. Promoting an active community with high levels of wellbeing requires radically different strategic approaches to urban transformation, necessitating innovative urban design; urban design that brings together modelling and an understanding of network connectivity, urban microclimate and comfort, UV exposure and access to daylight, air quality, and a sense of place and social infrastructure alongside transport and density distribution. While the general relationship of walking to public health is well established, the specific ways in which walkability is geared to urban morphology are less understood. This theme will place a specific focus on:

  • developing metrics, modelling and mapping of urban design dimensions of walkability, including density, functional mix, access and microclimate
  • exploring the opportunities and barriers to transit-oriented urban designs, including property markers and urban design frameworks
  • identifying and developing design innovation for walking, cycling and transit oriented urban design.



Urban Design, Transport and Health
A new series by The Lancet features cutting-edge research led by THUD Research Hub director Prof Mark Stevenson outlining the quantifiable health outcomes of changing the ways our cities are planned, built and managed. Read more...

Planning the driverless city
We are excited to announce that a research team led by THUD’s Dr John Stone has been awarded a University of Melbourne Engagement Grant to investigate how driverless cars will shape our cities. Further information about the project ‘Planning the driverless city: what autonomous vehicles mean for Australasian cities’, can be found at here.


ABC Radio Afternoons Adelaide
Prof Mark Stevenson discusses (6min 40sec mark) the issue of how to convince people to choose public transport over their own cars. Presented by Sonya Feldhoff. 

Changing cities for the future
Prof Mark Stevenson and Prof Chris Ryan talk to The Science Show about how we can work with today's cities to ensure a healthier, more sustainable future. Presented by Robyn Williams.

Listen via The Science Show on ABC Radio National.

Are our cities making us sick?
Prof Mark Stevenson on ABC Radio National's Blueprint for Living program on how we can modify our cities to minimise our dependence on cars. Presented by Jonathon Green.

Listen via ABC Radio National.

Let's get physical: Designing cities with our health in mind
Urban public health researcher Prof Mark Stevenson describes the better human health outcomes to be had in cities that emphasize active transport modes like cycling and walking, while discouraging dependence on cars. Presented by Lynne Haultain.


Led by Prof Mark Stevenson, the Hub comprises a diverse mix of experience and expertise in the fields of health, transport, urban planning/design, urban analytics and property.


Key projects being undertaken by the Transport, Health and Urban Design Research Hub.


Governance of the Transport, Health and Urban Design Research Hub.


Transport, Health and Urban Design seminars, workshops and media.