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Urban Transformations and Health: The case of TransMiCable in Bogotá

Image rendering of cable cars in Bogotá

Project Summary

Transport policies are one way that urban policies and design can affect population health. Specifically, transportation can have direct and indirect effects on a range of health outcomes, such as chronic diseases, mental health and well-being, traffic-related injuries, as well as exposure to air pollution and physical activity. Yet the health impacts of transportation initiatives are rarely documented. 

Cable cars have emerged as a popular non-traditional transportation mode in many large cities in low- and middle-income countries. In particular, Colombia has been at the forefront of these initiatives. As a form of suspended, aerial transportation, cable cars have the ability to connect spatially isolated and informal hillside communities to city centers and other points of interest. For this reason, cable cars are considered an energy and cost-efficient form of public transportation, and may be especially valuable in improving urban mobility for socially vulnerable populations. TransMiCable will be the latest cable car system in Latin America and serve Ciudad Bolivar, a low-income neighborhood in the periphery of the city.  The cable car will be accompanied by a series of urban improvements including parks, a public library, a public market, and the upgrading of some informal settlements along the transport line. 

In order to quantify the impact of cable cars on health and quality of life, the researchers will capitalize on a natural experiment created by the development of the new system. The team will collect new data from residents in the intervention neighborhood and in a control neighborhood matched on several characteristics. Outcomes to be examined will include physical activity, respiratory health, violence, social cohesion, reported quality of life, and travel behavior.  Data will be collected via questionnaires, via accelerometers, and via special apps designed to characterize mobility patters. A qualitative component will explore resident expectations and experiences.

This project will contribute much needed evidence of the health impact of a novel urban transportation system. Findings will be of interest to many urban initiatives to promote sustainable transportation and health. 

Research Team

Olga L. Sarmiento, Universidad de los Andes
Daniel Rodriguez, University of California, Berkeley
Diana Higuera, Universidad de los Andes
Luis Angel Guzman, Universidad de los Andes
Carlos Moncada, Universidad Nacional
Jose David Pinzon, Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano
Eliana Martinez, Universidad de Antioquia
Manuel Santana, University of California, Berkeley
Gustavo Holguin, Universidad de los Andes
Felipe Montes, Universidad de los Andes
Ricardo Morales, Universidad de los Andes
Andres Useche, Universidad de los Andes
Jose Luis Ariza, DANE
Xize Wang, University of California, Berkeley
Andrés Medaglia, Universidad de los Andes
Philipp Hessel, Universidad de los Andes
Mariana Arcaya, MIT
Elizabeth García, Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá
Monica Pachon, Universidad del Rosario
Alejandro Feged, Universidad del Rosario
Erik Vergel, Universidad del Rosario
Alex Quistberg, Drexel University
Yvonne Michael, Drexel University
Rosie Henson, Drexel University
Gina Lovasi, Drexel University
Nelson Da Cruz Gouveia, Universidad de São Paulo
Ana Diez Roux, Drexel University

The SALURBAL (Salud Urbana en América Latina, or “Urban Health in Latin America”) project is implementing this evaluation with support from the Wellcome Trust [205177/Z/16/Z].