Research on health and transport has increased significantly in the past 20 years, both across health and transportation fields. Researchers and practitioners have called for the use of health indicators in transportation, which come amidst the growing emphasis on the use of indicators for transportation plans and projects in general. The underlying hope is that new procedural arrangements, such as measuring and tracking indicators, can turn policy goals into practice. However, it is unclear if these indicators, if used, have any influence on transportation decisions. Much of the research on indicators is focused on their development and use rather than their influence.
This research proposal explores the use and influence of health indicators in transportation using a mixed methods approach. First, an inventory of municipal health indicators will be undertaken, addressing a gap in knowledge regarding the extent and use of health indicators. Then, a survey to municipal actors in a transportation decision-making process will explore which factors (indicator, user, organizational, and political) best explain use and influence. Finally, a common case will be selected from among the municipalities to further explore the leading theories suggested by the survey results and uncover the mechanisms by which use and influence occur.