Transportation

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Walking and bicycling for daily transportation are important ways to get regular physical activity, but such active travel has decreased dramatically over the past few decades. Investing transportation funds in sidewalks, traffic-calming devices, greenways, trails and public transit make it easier for people to walk and bike within their own neighborhoods and to other places they need to go. Designing communities that support active travel also creates recreational opportunities, promotes health and can even lower health care costs. Research that shows how infrastructure improvements promote active travel can help policy-makers, planners and other professionals create healthier communities for residents of all ages.

Download our Transportation-related Resources Sheet for the best evidence available about a variety of transportation-based strategies for promoting physical activity.

You can also view and download our The Role of Transportation in Promoting Physical Activity infographic.

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Bicycle Boulevards and Changes in Physical Activity and Active Transportation: Findings from a Natural Experiment

Date: 
12/01/2014
Description: 

Dill, J., McNeil, N., Broach, J., & Ma, L. (2014). Bicycle Boulevards and Changes in Physical Activity and Active Transportation: Findings from a Natural Experiment. Preventive Medicine, 69(Suppl), S74-S78.

Abstract: 

OBJECTIVE: This study evaluates changes in physical activity and active transportation associated with installation of new bicycle boulevards. METHODS: This natural experiment study uses data from a longitudinal panel of adults with children (n=353) in Portland, OR. Activity and active transportation outcomes were measured with GPS and accelerometers worn for up to 5 days in 2010-11 and 2012-13. The effect of the treatment was estimated using difference in differences estimation and multivariate regression models. RESULTS: In five of the seven models, the interaction term was not significant, indicating that after controlling for the main effects of time and exposure separately, there was no correlation between being in a treatment area and minutes of moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per day, bicycling N10 min, walking N20 min, minutes of walking (if N20), or making a bike trip. Significant covariates included rain, being female, living closer to downtown, and attitudes towards bicycling, walking, and car safety. CONCLUSION: This study could not confirm an increase in physical activity or active transportation among adults with children living near newly installed bicycle boulevards. Additional pre/post studies are encouraged, as well as research on the length of time after installation that behavior change is likely to occur.

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Addressing Pedestrian Safety: A Content Analysis of Pedestrian Master Plans in North Carolina

Date: 
02/01/2010
Description: 

Jones, D. K., Evenson, K. R., Rodriguez, D. A., & Aytur, S. A. (2010). Addressing Pedestrian Safety: A Content Analysis of Pedestrian Master Plans in North Carolina. Traffic Injury Prevention, 11(1), 57-65.

Abstract: 

OBJECTIVE: To systematically examine the content of pedestrian master plans in North Carolina in order to assess whether and how these plans were designed to improve pedestrian safety. METHODS: All current pedestrian master plans in North Carolina through 2008 were gathered and examined using content analysis. A safety quality index was developed to assess the thoroughness with which a plan addressed safety issues in four categories: (1) goal statement, (2) analysis of current conditions, (3) policy proposals, and (4) program proposals. Plans were also compared according to the implementation guidelines included and on the recent pedestrian accident history of the municipalities in which they were developed. RESULTS: Forty-six plans were developed in North Carolina through 2008, either at the municipal or regional level. Almost all pedestrian master plans in North Carolina described improving safety as one of their goals. The majority attempted to do so by improving the built environment through engineering projects, including building new sidewalks, trails, or greenways and by upgrading existing facilities. Regional plans tended to propose fewer policies and programs, as well as less specific proposals, than did municipal plans. Although most plans contained multiple proposals to address pedestrian safety, few plans identified a group accountable for implementation, a timeline of implementation actions, or the resources necessary to make implementation possible. Municipalities with a recent history of pedestrian injuries were more likely to develop plans than those with fewer pedestrian injuries. Plans developed by municipalities with a recent history of pedestrian fatalities tended to more thoroughly addressed safety. CONCLUSION: Safety was a major component of nearly every pedestrian master plan in North Carolina. Most plans contained multiple proposals to address pedestrian safety. These findings lay the foundation for future research evaluating both the implementation and the impact of these planning documents on the safety of pedestrians.

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Spatial and Temporal Patterns of North Carolina Pedestrian and Bicycle Plans

Date: 
05/01/2013
Description: 

Aytur, S. A., Rodriguez, D. A., Kerr, Z. Y., Ji, K., & Evenson, K. R. (2013). Spatial and Temporal Patterns of North Carolina Pedestrian and Bicycle Plans. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 19(3 Suppl 1), S83-S88.

Abstract: 

CONTEXT: Pedestrian and bicycle plans support community-level physical activity. In North Carolina, pedestrian/bicycle plans are becoming more prevalent. However, no studies have examined the spatial and temporal diffusion of pedestrian/bicycle plans. OBJECTIVES: This study assessed (a) temporal trends associated with municipal pedestrian/bicycle planning from 1974 to 2011 and (b) spatial patterns associated with municipal plans, specifically, whether the publication of a pedestrian/bicycle plan in a given year was associated with the number of neighboring municipalities with plans. SETTING: North Carolina from 1974 to 2011. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The main outcome was date of publication of all North Carolina municipal pedestrian and bicycle plans (1974-2011). We calculated Euclidean distances from each municipality center to all other municipality centers to derive whether municipalities were within 20 and 50 miles of each other. Sociodemographic covariates (eg, education, grant funding status, poverty, urbanicity, racial composition, population size, population growth) were collected from the US Census of Population (1980-2010) and the American Community Survey (2006-2010). Time series models fitted by generalized estimating equations were used to assess relationships between plan presence and the temporal and spatial predictor variables. RESULTS: The number of pedestrian and bicycle plans significantly increased over time, especially after 2006 when a state grant funding program was initiated. Unadjusted models indicated that municipalities were significantly more likely to have a pedestrian plan if higher numbers of neighboring municipalities had pedestrian plans. After adjustment for sociodemographic covariates and funding source, this relationship was attenuated but remained statistically significant. For bicycle plans, no significant associations were observed between plan presence and the number of neighboring municipalities with bicycle plans in adjusted models. CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this study can be used to generate hypotheses to test theories about diffusion of innovation and social contagion processes in pedestrian/bicycle planning.

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Walkable Streets: Pedestrian Behavior, Perceptions and Attitudes

Date: 
09/01/2008
Description: 

Mehta, V. (2008). Walkable Streets: Pedestrian Behavior, Perceptions and Attitudes. Journal of Urbanism, 1(3), 217-245.

Abstract: 

Urban designers are interested in the environmental qualities of places that make them better for walking, not only as settings for physical activity, but also as sensorial and social settings. Research in walkability lacks qualitative studies that address the microscale analyses of the environment. This paper is an empirical examination of the relationship of the physical, land‐use, and social characteristics of the environment at the microscale to people's behavior and perceptions toward walking. Using the data from surveys and interviews, this research emphasizes the integration of user perceptions and subjective measures to understand the impact of environmental characteristics on walking behavior on Main Streets. Adding to previous research, this study demonstrates the significance of social qualities in supporting walking. The findings expand our understanding of the hierarchy and criteria of walking needs and suggest that, given a safe and comfortable setting, people look for usefulness, sense of belonging and pleasurability as additional and distinct needs to enhance their walking experience.

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Creating an Online Platform for Healthier Changes in Latino Communities

Date: 
03/12/2014
Description: 

Presentation at the 2014 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

Background and Purpose
More than 39% of Latino children ages 2-19 are overweight or obese, compared to almost 32% of all U.S. children.(1)  These high rates of obesity among Latino children are particularly alarming because Latino children currently comprise 22% of all U.S. youth—and are expected to grow to comprise 30% of the youth population by 2025.(2-3)

In response, Salud America! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children launched an online network in 2007 to mobilize four sectors of society (community leaders, researchers, policymakers and media) to collaborate to reverse the obesity epidemic. In its first five years, the network recruited more than 2,000 members and fed them with innovative video, online and e-communications.(4-5)

The network also made many research advancements: 1) Developed the first-ever Latino Childhood Obesity Research Priority Agenda; 2) Funded 20 grantee researchers; 3) Developed research briefs on Latino nutrition, physical activity and media/marketing issues; and 4) Developed the “Policy Contribution Spectrum” model.(6-7)

Based on its research success and the Spectrum model, Salud America! has created and is beta-testing a unique online platform that will expand its membership and activate them to create healthy lifestyle policy change to prevent and reduce Latino childhood obesity in the areas of: active play, active spaces, better food in the neighborhood, healthier school snacks, healthier marketing, and sugary drinks.

Objectives
Salud America! is creating, populating, and recruiting members for a multi-purpose online platform, Growing Healthy Change, to serve as a clearinghouse for news, research and evidence-based informational products, ongoing prevention policies, dynamic role model stories and videos, and other resources to prevent Latino childhood obesity. We hypothesize that this online platform, which will be launched following beta-testing in Fall 2013, will increase self and collective efficacy among members of the Salud America! network to drive community efforts that will lead to reductions in Latino childhood obesity.

Methods
Salud America! surveyed its network in January 2013 to gauge the use of Salud America! products—including monthly E-alerts, quarterly E-newsletters, a website, and the proposed Growing Healthy Change online platform—and determined network members’ baseline perceived self and collective efficacy for childhood obesity change. A total of 148 individuals responded, about 10% of the network. Most respondents were between ages 50-59 (30%) and female (80%). More than half of respondents were Latino (65%).

Results
Survey results found that the majority of respondents read our quarterly and monthly newsletters and a good proportion of our younger network members were connected and using our social media fed content. In regards to efficacy for advocacy, higher levels of Salud America! engagement was associated with collective efficacy—greater confidence in organized group advocacy as a way of advancing policies to reduce Latino child obesity. This sense of collective efficacy moderately predicts intentions to engage in advocacy behaviors. Salud America! engagement levels were less strongly associated with members’ confidence in their personal ability to be an effective advocate, and this sense of self- efficacy was a very strong predictor of intentions. Based on these findings, the Growing Healthy Change online platform will work toward increasing self- and collective efficacy through peer modeling—framed through the network’s evidence-based Policy Contribution Spectrum—and tools to help individuals interested in promoting change to connect with each other and with opportunities for concerted local actions in their communities.

Conclusions
Based on network feedback, Salud America! is working to expand its web-based network through improved and more frequent communication and through the development of the Growing Healthy Change online platform—a website which will allow users to stay informed about the latest in policies related to Latino childhood obesity. Visitors to the site will be able to browse through policy changes occurring at the national, state, and local level as well as success stories, resources, and multimedia products.  By becoming a registered user, visitors will be able to submit their own success stories, stories of change happening in their community, and will be able to connect with others who are also a part of the Salud America! network. After the launch of the “Growing Healthy Change Platform,” quarterly network surveys will be sent out to evaluate the use of our Salud America! products, platform and impact on self and collective efficacy.

Implications for Practice and Policy

  1. With research and multimedia products highlighting six areas of potential change—including active play and active spaces—Salud America! will continue to lead health communication efforts to reverse childhood obesity among Latinos.
  2. The Growing Healthy Change online platform will serve as an innovative learning and communications tool to drive change and reverse Latino childhood obesity.
  3. The platform will also track changes occurring at all levels and will help determine which communities lack policies to enforce healthier lifestyles and active living initiatives, and educate on how to make changes in those areas.

 

References

  1. Ogden Cl, Carroll MD, Kit BK., Flegel KM. Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among us children and adolescents, 1999-2010. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012;307(5): 483-90.
  2. Humes KR, Jones A, Ramirez RR. Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010. 2011.
  3. Fry R, Passel JS. Latino Children: A Majority Are U.S.-Born Offspring of Immigrants. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center 2009.
  4. Ramirez AG, Chalela P, Gallion KJ, Green LW, Ottoson JM. Salud America! Developing a National Latino Childhood Obesity Research Agenda. Health Educ Behav. 2011;38: 251-260.
  5. Ramirez AG, Gallion KJ, Despres CE, Adeigbe RT. Salud America!: A National Research Network to Build the Field and Evidence to Prevent Latino Childhood Obesity. American journal of preventive medicine. 2013;44(3): S178-185.
  6. Ottoson JM, Green LW, Beery WL, Senter SK, Cahill CL, Pearson DC, et al. Policy-Contribution Assessment and Field-Building Analysis of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Active Living Research Program. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2009;36(2, Supplement):S34-S43.
  7. Ottoson JM, Ramirez AG, Green LW, Gallion KJ. Exploring Potential Research Contributions to Policy: The Salud America! Experience. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013;44(3, Supplement): S282-S289.

 

Support / Funding Source
This research project is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (ID 70208).

Authors: 
Rosalie Aguilar, MS, Amelie Ramirez, DrPH, MPH, Rebecca Adeigbe, MS, Cliff Despres, BJ, & Kipling Gallion, MA
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Using Ecological Momentary Assessment to Examine Whether Environmental Perceptions Mediate the Effects of Smart Growth Planning on Physical Activity and Obesity

Date: 
03/12/2014
Description: 

Presentation at the 2014 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

Background and Purpose
Smart growth urban planning strategies (e.g., preservation of open space, integration of mixed land uses, establishment of compact building design, creation of walkable neighborhoods) may increase physical activity and lower obesity risk. It is thought that smart growth communities offer greater opportunities to be physically active in settings that are safer, have lower traffic exposure, and are more aesthetically pleasing (e.g., greater greenness, vegetation, shade). However, it is unknown whether residents of smart growth communities actually perform physical activity in safer and more aesthetically pleasing settings, and how performing physical activity in safe and aesthetically pleasing settings is related to overall physical activity levels and obesity. This limitation, known as the uncertain geographic context problem (UGCoP), is a growing concern in research on the built environment and physical activity, It is characterized by a lack of clarity about (1) the specific context or setting that has a direct influence on health-related behaviors; and (2) the timing and duration of individuals’ actual exposures to these contextual influences. To address these concerns, the present study used a real-time data capture strategy, Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA), to measure where physical activity occurs and perceptions of those settings.

Objectives
This study used EMA with electronic surveys delivered through mobile phones to determine whether perceived safety, traffic, and aesthetics of settings, where physically activity actually occurred, mediate the effects of living in a smart growth community on physical activity, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference in adults.

Methods
Research used a two-group quasi-experimental (“natural experiment”) design. Participants included 58 adults who had recently moved to a smart growth community in Southern California and a demographically-matched set of 59 adults living in nearby urban-sprawling comparison communities. The groups were comparable in age (M = 40.7 years, SD = 9.6), gender, (72% female), ethnicity (31% Hispanic), and income (27% < $40,000/yr). Individuals participated in eight days of EMA via mobile phones, with eight random EMA surveys per day between 6:30am and 10:00pm. EMA items measured current activity (e.g., eating, watching TV, physical activity/sports), physical context (e.g., home [indoors], home [outdoors], outdoors [not at home], work), and perceptions of that context if outdoors (i.e., safety, traffic, greenness/vegetation, shade, litter). Adults wore an Actigraph GT2M accelerometer to assess daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Height, weight and waist circumference were measured by research staff. Person-level average scores for perceived safety, traffic, greenness/vegetation, shade, and litter were calculated across EMA prompts when physical activity was reported in outdoor contexts. Direct and indirect effects of living in a smart growth community on perceptions of physical activity contexts, MVPA, BMI, and waist circumference were tested using linear regressions and bootstrapping in the SOBEL macro for SPSS.

Results
Residents of the smart growth community reported greater safety in outdoor physical activity settings than the comparison group (ß = .38, p = .017). Also, greater perceived safety of outdoor physical activity settings was negatively associated with lower BMI (ß = -.266, p = .050) and waist circumference (ß = -.298, p = .033), and positively related to daily MVPA (ß = .239, p = .079). The indirect effect of living in a smart growth community (through perceived safety of physical activity settings) was statistically significant for waist circumference (estimate = -3.39, 95% CI = -6.89 to -0.48) but not for BMI or MVPA. Perceptions of greenness, shade, traffic, and litter did not differ between individuals living in the smart growth versus control communities (p’s > .05). However, greater perceived greenness of outdoor physical activity contexts was associated with lower BMI (ß = -.297, p = .028), and greater perceived shade protection of outdoor physical activity contexts was associated with higher daily MVPA (ß = .274, p = .043) regardless of group.

Conclusions
Using a novel, real-time data collection strategy, this study found that greater perceived safety of physically activity settings may partially account for lower waist circumference among smart growth residents as compared with individuals living in urban sprawling comparison communities. Results suggest that smart growth planning may not influence perceived greenness, shade, traffic, and litter of outdoor physical activity contexts. However, these findings need to be replicated in other smart growth communities. Among all participants, regardless of community residency, those who performed physical activity in contexts with greater perceived shade from the sun were more physically active overall. Also, individuals who performed physical activity in contexts with greater perceived greenness had lower BMI’s on average. These findings suggest that performing activity in outdoor settings with specific features such as greater shade, greenness, and safety may offer conditions that promote more sustained, intense and/or frequent activity and lower obesity risk.

Implications for Practice and Policy
Designing communities according to smart growth urban planning principles may create subjectively safer places to be physically active, leading to lower obesity risk.

Support / Funding Source
American Cancer Society (118283-MRSGT-10-012-01-CPPB) and the National Cancer Institute (R01CA123243).

Authors: 
Genevieve Dunton, PhD, MPH, Yue Liao, MPH, Zhaoqing Huang, MD, MA, & Mary Ann Pentz, PhD
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Calculating the Return on Investment of Transportation Demand Management for Physical Activity in Arlington Virginia

Date: 
03/12/2014
Description: 

Presentation at the 2014 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

Background and Purpose
Active travel has proven health benefits.  Walking and bicycling are effective ways to meet the Surgeon General’s Guidelines for physical activity with significant results for health.  In a study comparing 14 countries, all 50 US states, and 47 of the largest US cities, Pucher et al. (2010) found a strong relationship between active travel, physical activity, and self-reported obesity.  In the San Francisco Bay Area, Maizlich et al. (2013) found that increasing median daily walking and bicycling from 4 to 22 minutes reduced the burden of cardiovascular disease and diabetes by 14%.

The transportation demand management (TDM) programs and strategies used by Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) promote active travel through BikeArlington and the region-wide bikesharing program, Capital Bikeshare; WalkArlington which strives to get more people walking more of the time; and services to support use of public transit which is also correlated with increased active transportation (Wasfi et al., 2013; Freeland et al., 2012; Lachapelle, 2011).  However, limited tools are available to help municipalities calculate the return on their investment in TDM, including walking and bicycling programs and strategies.  Such data would be beneficial in discussions about effectively prioritizing limited funding for transportation.

Objectives
This study aimed to assess the return on investment of ACCS programs by monetizing the measurable health outcomes of increased physical activity of residents and employees of Arlington County due to these programs.  The results will support ACCS in translating the well-accepted linkages between active transportation and healthy living into data for effective program planning and policy.

Methods
Two existing tools were applied to the Arlington context to calculate the cost savings of helping 1% of the Arlington County population increase their level of physical activity from 1 minute per week to 150 minutes per week.  The World Health Organization (WHO) Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) calculates the savings from reduced mortality due to increased physical activity, specifically walking and bicycling.  Changes in the amount of walking or cycling in a given population are converted to economic costs savings using mortality rates, the Value of a Statistical Life (VoSL) and the duration of time over which the benefits are realized (WHO, 2013).  The Physical Inactivity Cost Calculator developed by East Carolina University, Department of Health and Promotion (2006), calculates the external benefits of increased physical activity for a population that goes from inactive to 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise (i.e. walking or biking).  Cost savings are estimated in three categories - medical care, workers’ compensation, and lost productivity.

Results
The HEAT demonstrated that if just 1% of physically inactive Arlington adults increase their physical activity to CDC-recommended levels, it could save the country 3.17 deaths per year and result in cost savings of over $7.5 million per year for the first 5 years.  Annual benefits will be even higher for year 6 onwards, once health benefits and update of cycling/walking have reached maximum levels.  The PICC showed that if 1% of physically inactive Arlington adults increase their physical activity to CDC-recommended levels, external cost savings in terms of lost productivity, workers’ compensation and medical care would amount to $12 million per year.  When compared to the FY2013 budget for ACCS of $10.5 million, the savings provide a 200% rate of return on investment for physical activity benefits alone.

Conclusions
TDM programs influence travel behavior with implications for the health and safety of individuals and the community.  Improved public health and safety is not just a laudable community goal but have an economic value which is a great boon for constrained budgets in both transportation and health sectors.  Investments in active transportation have a calculable impact on public health.

Implications for Practice and Policy
In an effort to develop healthier communities, many municipalities are looking for ways to increase the variety of available transportation choices, particularly walking and bicycling.  Calculating the return on investment of active transportation contributes to discussions about prioritizing limited funding for transportation projects by helping identify the full cost and benefit of various modes of transportation.  Tools such as the HEAT and the PICC show how an initial investment in transportation provides significant returns in terms of public health and can help municipalities move active transportation from a novel idea to an established program.

The study also helps identify key factors that can improve the accuracy, consistency, and ease of calculating these cost savings in the future, particularly in using the HEAT and the PICC.   The Arlington County cost savings calculations were based on available data and reasonable estimates.  More accurate data would improve the accuracy of the calculations.  In particular, more accurate data is needed on the number of adults that are influenced by ACCS programs to increase their physical activity, on medical costs and insurance claims, workers compensation claims and payments, and on the mortality rate and the VoSL of Arlington County.

References

  1. Pucher, J., R. Buehler, D. R. Bassett, and A. L. Dannenberg. 2010. Walking and Cycling to Health: a Comparative Analysis of City, State, and International data. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 100, No. 10, 2010, pp. 1986-1992.
  2. Maizlish N, Woodcock J, Co S, Ostro B, Fanai A, Fairley D. 2013. Health Cobenefits and Transportation-related Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the San Francisco Bay Area. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 103, No. 4, 2013, pp. 703-709.
  3. Wasfi, R., N. A. Ross, and A. M. El-Geneidy. 2013. Achieving recommended daily physical activity through commuting by public transportation: Unpacking individual and contextual influences levels through commuting by public transportation: Unpacking individual and contextual influences. Health and Place, Vol. 23, Sep., 2013, pp. 18-25.
  4. Freeland, A. L., S. N. Banerjee, A. L. Dannenberg, and A. M. Wendel. 2012. Walking Associated With Public Transit: Moving Toward Increased Physical Activity in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 103, No. 3, 2012, pp. 536-542.
  5. Lachapelle, U., B. E. Saelens, J. F. Sallis, T. L. Conway. 2011. Commuting by Public Transit and Physical Activity: Where You Live, Where You Work, and How You Get There. Journal of Physical Activity & Health, Vol. 8, supplement, January, 2011, pp. S72-S82.
  6. World Health Organization. 2013. Health economic assessment tool (HEAT) for cycling and walking. www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/environment-and-health/Transport-and-health/activities/promotion-of-safe-walking-and-cycling-in-urban-areas/quantifying-the-positive-health-effects-of-cycling-and-walking/health-economic-assessment-tool-heat-for-cycling-and-walking. Accessed July 23, 2013
  7. East Carolina University. 2006. Quantifying the Cost of Physical Inactivity. Department of Health Education and Promotion, Greenville. www.ecu.edu/picostcalc/. Accessed July 23, 2013.

 

Support / Funding Source
Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) is the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) agency of Arlington County, Virginia. ACCS was established in 1989 in order to enhance Arlington's economic vitality.

Authors: 
Sonali Soneji, AICP & Aida Olkkonen, MPH MA
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The Practical Implementation and Transferability of Walkability as a Concept: Considerations for Active Living Research

Date: 
03/12/2014
Description: 

Presentation at the 2014 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

Background and Purpose
Research translation is needed, especially to ‘implementers’ to incorporate health in their everyday work (Jackson, Dannenberg, & Frumkin, 2013).  These walkability stakeholders, such as planners, engineers, architects, urban designers, policy makers amongst others, have their own professional knowledge on what constitutes a successful urban realm or physical environment.  While their opinions may be biased towards their desired outcomes, such as sustainable transport behaviours or engaging streetscapes, their relevant knowledge is not always incorporated into physical activity or public health research in a holistic manner that ensures results are translatable to their practices.  The diversity of relevant terms, concepts and practices from professional disciplines can result in misinterpretation or omission because of a supposed irrelevance (Brennan Ramirez et al., 2006).  This can reduce the perceived significance of research findings (Allender, Cavill, Parker, & Foster, 2009).  This exploratory exercise created a discussion forum for multidisciplinary participants using common reference areas, selected by the participants themselves, within the Greater Dublin Area (Ireland).  A holistic walkability criteria checklist, which can be used to address walkability in guidelines, plans, designs and policies, was generated from the study findings.  The criteria consider the contextual nature of walkability and how it relates to micro street-level, meso neighbourhood-level or macro city-level environments.

Objectives
The objective of this research was to develop multi-disciplinary, transferable walkability criteria.

Methods
Qualitative data was collected in six professionally heterogeneous focus groups (N=26).  The procedure used socio-spatial recall to facilitate discussion on what makes an area high or low walkable.  This involved participants selecting two high walkable and two low walkable areas in the inner city, the outer city and suburban areas of Dublin.  The area selection process was facilitated using mapping.  Area selections were collated and discussed within the group setting.  Focus groups were carried out until data saturation was reached.  Both the personal and professional concerns of participations were considered as a result of the method used.  This contributed to the comprehensiveness of the data obtained.  The walkability criteria were generated from the themes identified in the data using content analysis.

Results
Across the focus groups similar areas were selected by participants; however the reasons for selection varied.  In general, engineers, public representatives and public health and advocacy professionals selected areas ‘to go for a walk’ whereas spatial and transport planners and architecture and design professionals selected liveable neighbourhoods.  The criteria reflect the contextual nature of walkability and are a series of general statements rather than specific items for measurement.  This further increases the transferability and applicability of the criteria.  A core theme ‘scale’ emerged from the data which is consistent with Ewing and colleagues urban design centred walkability research (2006).  The remaining 13 criteria relate to (i) the liveable village (n=3), (iii) permeability (n=6) and (iii) the streetscape (n=4).

Conclusions
Walkability is contextual and means different things to different people, but also different things to the same person under different contexts.  An individual’s perception of how walkable an area is forms a key consideration in their decision whether or not to walk regardless of the purpose of the trip.  Therefore, walkability should be a key consideration for everyone involved in all elements of the planning, design and construction of the built environment.  Therefore, by identifying and summarising the key elements that contribute to walkability, in the opinion of this multidisciplinary group, criteria were developed which are transferable for use in both practice and future research.  The key elements are scale, livability, permeability and the streetscape.

Implications for Practice and Policy
The developed criteria present relevant, multidisciplinary walkability considerations in a succinct manner which will: (i) enable practitioners undertake a simple ‘walkability check’ on their designs and plans and (ii) inform researchers on the elements of the built environment which are key concerns for practitioners and policymakers.

References

  1. Allender, S., Cavill, N., Parker, M., & Foster, C. (2009). “Tell us something we don”t already know or do!’- The response of planning and transport professionals to public health guidance on the built environment and physical activity. Journal of Public Health Policy, 30(1), 102–116.
  2. Brennan Ramirez, L. K., Hoehner, C. M., Brownson, R. C., Cook, R. A., Orleans, C. T., Hollander, M., … Wilkinson, W. (2006). Indicators of activity-friendly communities: an evidence-based consensus process. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 31(6), 515–24.
  3. Ewing, R., Handy, S. L., Brownson, R. C., Clemente, O., & Winston, E. (2006). Identifying and Measuring Urban Design Qualities Related to Walkability. Journal of Physical Activiy and Health, 3(Suppl 1), S223–S239.
  4. Jackson, R. J., Dannenberg, A. L., & Frumkin, H. (2013). Health and the built environment: 10 years after. American Journal of Public Health, 103(9), 1542–4.

 

Support / Funding Source
This study was funded by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency and National Development Plan’s STRIVE programme.

Authors: 
Lorraine D'Arcy, BE (Civil), MEngSc, PhD, Kevin M. Leyden, BA, MA, PhD, & Catherine Woods, BSc, PhD
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Ciclovia Participation and Impacts in San Diego: Evaluating the First CicloSDias

Date: 
03/12/2014
Description: 

Presentation at the 2014 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

Background and Purpose
San Diego held its first Open Streets event called CicloSDias on Sunday August 11th, 2013. This event was modeled after the community-based Ciclovía programs which are held internationally. From 10AM to 4PM, streets were temporarily closed to vehicles, allowing exclusive access to cyclists and pedestrians for active recreation. The 5.2 mile route crossed through four diverse neighborhoods in an effort to involve individuals from low socioeconomic status (SES) and ethnically diverse populations.

Objectives
This study evaluated participation rates and impacts of CicloSDias in four areas: 1) reach and attendance; 2) impacts on attendees' physical activity ; 3) impacts on local businesses, 4) support for improved bicycling infrastructure.

Methods
Attendee counting. Direct observation was used to obtain counts of attendees. Attendees were classified by gender (male vs. female), age (adult vs. child) and activity (biking, pedestrian, or other wheeled device). Intercept surveys. A brief intercept survey assessed attendees motivation for attending, reach of the event, physical activity during the event as well as a typical week, and attitudes towards bicycling infrastructure. Large posters were used to collect data on four survey questions perceived as most important to expand the sample. Business survey. To determine the impact on local businesses, a brief survey was distributed at the end of the event to all businesses along the route. The survey questions were intended to capture the impacts of CicloSDias on the business' customers, staff and profits, as well as how supportive business owners were to having another CicloSDias. Community-wide survey. Two-weeks prior to the event, a city-wide survey was administered via telephone to inquire about their knowledge of CicloSDias and their support for bicycling infrastructure. Random digit dialing was conducted within San Diego City zip codes, with a greater proportion of people living near the event being targeted. Another survey was conducted during the two-week period directly following CicloSDias, using the same methods and a new randomly-selected sample. Similar questions were used so that changes in knowledge of CicloSDias and support for bicycling infrastructure could be investigated.

Results
Attendance: Approximately 8,311 people participated in the CicloSDias event.  The most common modes of travel at the event were cycling, at over 80%, and about 12% walked. The distribution across gender and age was around 53%-54% of cyclists recorded as male and 34%-35% recorded as female. Around 11%-13% of cyclists were children.

Reach of event: Data are currently being analyzed for all other outcomes. The final report will compare characteristics of the attendees to people living in the area around the event as well as across San Diego. It will also document how many people in the community-wide survey had heard about event and how, which will suggest the most effective mode of advertisement and outreach.

Impacts on physical activity: One thousand surveys were collected at the event. The final report will compare minutes of PA during the event to minutes of PA on a typical weekend day.  Association between SES and race/ethnicity with self-reported PA impacts will be analyzed.

Impacts on businesses: Business impact survey data (n=30) will be analyzed to determine if businesses were supportive of the event and how their business was impacted. From the intercept surveys, the final study will investigate how many attendees shopped at local businesses.

Supportiveness for bicycling infrastructure: There were 404 community-wide pre-surveys and 405 post-surveys collected, with 174 total being Latino. The final report will compare supportiveness of attendees to supportiveness of respondents to the community-wide survey. Additionally, the pre- and post-community-wide survey data will be compared to assess change in support. Correlates of support for improved bicycling infrastructure will be assessed.

Conclusions
The present evaluation appears to be unique in being a particularly thorough assessment of the first Ciclovia event in a city, which allows for examination of the impact on community support for policies related to bicycle infrastructure. By conducting a thorough assessment of attendees, a population sample, and local businesses, the results can be used to justify and improve similar events in the future.

Implications for Practice and Policy
Open Streets events require substantial planning and costs, so identifying benefits of the events can help justify future events. Each component of the present evaluation provides information of relevant to program planners and policy makers. Participating in CicloSDias or seeing favorable media coverage may increase support for improved bicycle infrastructure. Support from the business community is likely to be critical to acceptance of future events. The community-wide surveys determine the most effective methods of advertisement and distribution of event information and can identify neighborhoods with the most interest in hosting future events.

Support / Funding Source
The California Endowment.

Authors: 
Jessa Engelberg, BA, Michelle Black, BS, BA, Jordan Carlson, PhD, MA, Sherry Ryan, PhD, James Sallis, PhD, Tracy Delaney, PhD, RD, Mina Brown, ACIP, MA, & Ed Clancy, BA
Location by State: 

Supporting Complete Streets Policy Implementation: A Low-Cost Methodology for Evaluating Pedestrian Safety and Prioritizing Investments

Date: 
03/12/2014
Description: 

Presentation at the 2014 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

Background and Purpose
After years of exceeding national average crash and fatality rates, New Orleans was designated as an FHWA Pedestrian Safety Focus City in 2011 (1), forcing a renewed focus on addressing this troubling and persistent problem. Meanwhile, Complete Streets policies in this area were adopted at the state, regional, and municipal levels between 2010 and 2012 (2), presenting a critical opportunity to encourage and facilitate active transportation through policy implementation. In order to equitably prioritize these investments and maximize benefits to users, implementation of Complete Streets policy needs to be linked to the region’s safety deficiencies.

Since 2006, the University of New Orleans (in partnership with the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission) has been engaged in the development of tools for evaluating crash outcomes and improving safety for non-motorized users. The purpose of this study was to synthesize these activities into a flexible, low-cost framework for conducting a comprehensive pedestrian safety analysis, providing decision-makers with the necessary data to effectively link pedestrian safety with the built environment and create pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, a fundamental component of a Complete Streets approach.

Description
This effort addresses local and regional agencies’ need to evaluate and prioritize pedestrian crash hot spots, and to explore the factors and circumstances associated with those crashes in specific corridors, intersections, or nodes based on readily available or easily obtained data sources. Thus, the following steps were included in this analysis:

  1. Identification and Analysis of Crash Clusters (3)
  2. Pedestrian sidewalk and intersection audits (4)
  3. Pedestrian and bicycle counts (5)
  4. Analysis of area demographics, transit, and land use context
  5. Narrative profile of fatal and severe crash incidents within target clusters
  6. Recommended Interventions

 

The result of this analysis is a concise summary of identified shortcomings in the pedestrian environment, estimated user demand, and suggested countermeasures to improve safety for a given area. This can be used as a tool to advocate for change, to provide benchmark metrics against which to evaluate future progress, to better understand some of the complexities impacting safety outcomes, and as a tool to facilitate discussion and generate support for needed policy or infrastructure interventions.

Lessons Learned
As anticipated, this study illuminated numerous infrastructure deficiencies: many facilities need to be retrofitted to comply with the American Disabilities Act, upgrades to outdated and/or non-functional equipment, and solutions needed for long-term maintenance of infrastructure once constructed. Better understanding the conditions present in a specific node, neighborhood, city, or region that affect safety outcomes can help us to more effectively prioritize the use of limited resources for near-term interventions, as well as to holistically plan for programs and policies that will guide transportation planning in the long term.

More broadly, this study also revealed a need for systemic changes in how pedestrian accommodation is provided and prioritized, and in how crash data pertaining to non-motorized users is collected, coded, and disseminated. Overall, development of a flexible, low-cost methodology for conducting localized non-motorized safety research advances communities’ efforts to improve safety outcomes, address accessibility shortcomings, and implement new and innovative ways to better implement complete streets policies. 

Conclusions and Implications
This framework for evaluating pedestrian safety, prioritizing investment, and tracking change is of potential use to many local and regional agencies, consultants, and researchers. It provides a method to efficiently guide crash analysis and mitigation, particularly in areas where access to data is constrained or non-motorized data collection programs have not yet been institutionalized.

This is especially valuable when policies have been adopted that demand such data in order to be implemented effectively, such as Complete Streets. Analysis techniques such as those described in this research can be used to 1) evaluate pedestrian conditions at the project level and identify recommended improvements, 2) prioritize investments across a jurisdiction in order to ensure that resources are applied where most needed, and 3) measure progress toward policy implementation, capturing changes in key metrics including crash totals and severity, built environment audit scores, and user volumes over time. Jurisdictions with recently adopted complete streets policies should consider incorporating multi-tool analysis frameworks such as this one in order to ensure a coordinated, data-driven approach to policy implementation.

Next Steps
The results of this study are being presented to various agencies involved in the implementation of New Orleans’ Complete Streets policies, and the researchers will continue to work with these agencies to incorporate this analysis framework in policy implementation and evaluation. Additional research is ongoing to develop a complementary analysis framework for bicyclists. Effective Complete Streets policy implementation should include coordination among stakeholders, including government agencies, developers, advocates, engineers and planning professionals, and the local community. This approach to collecting and interpreting data will be used to facilitate dialogue among these stakeholders, and ensure investments in active transportation maximize positive impacts and promote equitable outcomes for communities.

References

  1. FHWA Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety. Undated. http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/. Accessed July 2, 2013.
  2. Tolford, T. Complete Streets Policy Manual. Center for Planning Excellence. 2012. http://connect.cpex.org/files/2012/08/CSmanual_FINAL.pdf. Accessed July 2, 2013.
  3. Fields, B., and T. Tolford. New Orleans Regional Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Report, 2006-2008. July 2011. Regional Planning Commission for Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany Parishes. http://transportation.uno.edu/phire-content/assets/files/PBRI_CrashReport2006-2008_FINAL.pdf. Accessed July 3, 2013.
  4. Renne, J.L. Auditing Neighborhoods, Streets, and Intersections for Pedestrian Safety: A Toolkit for Communities. Sept 2009. Regional Planning Commission for Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany Parishes.Accessed July 3, 2013.
  5. Fields, B. Active Transportation Measurement and Benchmarking Development: New Orleans Pedestrian and Bicycle Count Report, 2010-2011. Gulf Coast Research Center for Evacuation and Transportation Resiliency. Jan 2012. Accessed July 3, 2013.

 

Support / Funding Source
This study was funded by the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

Authors: 
Tara Tolford, MURP, John Renne, PhD, & Billy Fields, PhD
Location by State: 
Population: 
Study Type: 

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