Vaez and colleagues studied how people using different wayfinding tools traveled through a place they had never been before. Researchers worked with “three groups of participants who used different navigational aids: a group with a paper map, a group with the Google Maps app, and a group relying on local signage only. . . . participants who had never visited Brisbane, Australia. . . . undertook a two-hour pedestrian wayfinding task. . . . The GPS group preferred to follow the suggested route by their navigator, most of them ‘locking in’ as digital navigators throughout the task.
Of our time, important for our era
Li and colleagues studied how streetscapes influence walking in Boston. They report that “Publicly accessible Google Street View images were used to estimate the amount of street greenery. . . . Statistical analysis results show that the associations between human walking activities and the streetscape variables vary among different land use types after controlling the confounding variable of the Walk Score and population. . .
A research team headed by Hollander studied how we look at neighborhoods/cities. They conducted a study during which participants “looked at different scenes of New York City public buildings in a set up with an eye tracker in front of a monitor displaying images. Half of the images had design characteristics exemplary of traditional neighborhood design (TND) (like narrow streets, complex facades, and bilateral symmetry). Subjects tended to show greater eye fixation on building fenestration [openings in building envelope] in TND environments, as opposed to the non-TND environments.”
Portegijs and colleagues studied how neighborhood features influence the (self-reported) physical activity/mobility of older (79-94 year old) residents of a Finnish community. They asked study participants to indicate “destinations perceived to facilitate and barriers perceived to hinder outdoor mobility in their neighborhood. . . . analyses adjusted for age, sex, and physical performance showed that neighborhood destinations increased the odds for higher physical activity when located beyond 500 m from home . . . but not when located solely within 500 m . . .
Pae and Akar determined that the purpose of a walk influences how we walk and our perceptions of that walk’s implications. The researchers report that they analyzed data from the “2017 [US] National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) data. The sample includes 125,885 adults between the ages of 18 and 64. . . . trip purposes are defined as: home-based work, home-based shopping, home-based recreation, home-based other and non-home-based trips. . . . walking for different trip purposes has different effects on adults’ self-assessed health scores.
Kuhlmann evaluated the effects of tearing down deteriorating houses on the condition of nearby homes. He investigated “whether exposure to targeted demolitions of abandoned and distressed housing affects changes in the external condition of nearby houses. Using two waves of a property inventory in Cleveland, Ohio, [Kuhlmann’s] models suggest that, compared with a control group of houses located near vacant housing, proximity to demolitions decreases the likelihood that a property’s condition deteriorated between 2015 and 2018 and increases the likelihood that it improved.”
Research lead by Paksarian and Merikangas, and published in JAMA Psychiatry, confirms that nighttime light can have undesirable consequences. Investigators determined that “adolescents [13-18 years olds] who live in areas that have high levels of artificial light at night tend to get less sleep and are more likely to have a mood disorder relative to teens who live in areas with low levels of night-time light. . . . Daily rhythms, including the circadian rhythms that drive our sleep-wake cycles, are thought to be important factors that contribute to physical and mental health.
Hidalgo and colleagues studied how bonds to urban places are related to how well cared for those spaces are. The team report that “Research in environmental psychology has found a positive relationship between place bonds and behaviors related to care and maintenance of place. Although this relationship has been analyzed in natural environments. . . . The participants [in this study] were . . . from eight different neighborhoods with different sociodemographic characteristics in one Spanish city.
Neal probed factors that influence people’s satisfaction with their neighborhood and his findings are published in Urban Studies. Neal determined that “’Contrary to what many would think, characteristics of your neighborhood have little to do with how satisfied you are with it’ [quote attributed to Neal]. . . . Neal’s research revisited findings from 27 earlier studies that spanned 11 countries in North America, Europe and Asia, and included a sample of more than 250,000 adults living in those neighborhoods. . . .