The Healthiest vs. Greenest Path: Comparing the Effects of Internal and External Costs of Motor Vehicle Pollution on Route Choice 

On-road emissions, a dominant source of urban air pollution, damage human health. The ‘healthiest path’ and the ‘greenest path’ are proposed as alternative patterns of traffic route assignment to minimize the costs of pollution exposure and emission, respectively. As a proof-of-concept, the framework of a link-based emission cost analysis is built for both internal and external environmental costs and is applied to the road network in the Minneapolis – St. Paul Metropolitan Area based on the EPA MOVES and RLINE models. The healthiest and the greenest paths are skimmed for all work-trip origin-destination pairs and then aggregated into work trip flows to identify the healthier or greener roads in a comparative statics analysis. The estimates show that highways have higher emission concentrations due to higher traffic flow, on which, but that the internal and external emission costs are lower. The emission cost that commuters impose on others greatly exceeds that which they bear. In addition, the greenest path is largely consistent with the traditional shortest path which implies that highways tend to be both greener and shorter (in travel time) for commuters than surface streets. Use of the healthiest path would generate more detours, and higher travel times.
Route choice, Traffic assignment, Shortest path, Pollution, Emissions, Exposure, Intake