Stair design can do a lot more for us than smooth our trip from one floor to another.
Environmental energy levels and planned activities align for successful design.
Decisions designers make now affect walking later--and our mental and physical health.
Cho and Rodriguez assess location’s influence on walkability in an article that reviews many of the classic issues raised by researchers. The team found that “a neighbourhood’s location may be associated with walking or physical activity and . . . this association may be separately identifiable from the influence of the neighbourhood built environment on behaviours. The findings indicated that residing in a highly urban location had a consistently positive association with walking and transportation-purpose physical activity” but did not influence recreational walking.
It’s becoming more difficult to develop New Urbanist communities. These residential enclaves encourage neighbors to socialize with each other. Wesley Marshall, at the University of Colorado, Denver, has studied “the increasing challenges of balancing complex traffic engineering systems with the ideals of walkable, sustainable neighborhoods.” For example, “One of those principles [of New Urbanism] relies on narrow streets to restrict travel speeds for increased safety.
School walkability is a hot topic—public health professionals believe that if children walk to school they’re less likely to be tubby. Banerjee and his team have documented that factors other than street/neighborhood design influence the likelihood that children will walk to school: “Interviews with fifth-graders from five [inner city] grade schools [in Los Angeles] suggest that the dangers in their social milieu are a much greater concern for them than the physical milieu, which the walkability research typically emphasizes.”
Plaza design must support humans' fundamental psychological needs
Yen and her team investigated what factors prompt older individuals to do more walking. They learned, after synthesizing information from previous research, that “Safety was a central mechanism, serving as one of the bridges between environmental components (e.g., connectivity, aesthetics, retail and services) and decisions about mobility. Population density, sidewalk presence, and park proximity did not emerge as key factors. . . . Street connectivity, pedestrian access and transit, and retail and services were also important.”
Therapeutic gardens/landscapes can make a big difference in users' lives. Research leads to practical design suggestions that optimize user experience of these spaces.
Lee and Talen have thoroughly investigated methodologies for walkability research. They’ve learned that “the combination of information from Google Street View and updated GIS layers can be an effective way of obtaining physical environment data that is very comparable to in-person observation.”
Sungduck Lee and Emily Talen. 2014. “Measuring Walkability: A Note on Auditing Methods.” Journal of Urban Design, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 368-388.