Iravani and Rao looked at links between New Urbanist design and health. They specifically studied “how the 10 New Urbanism principles produce outcomes that affect public health. The outcomes include: (1) higher usage of non-motorized and public transit modes, which results in more physical activity; (2) lower usage of private automobiles, which results in less air pollution; (3) safer streets, which results in fewer traffic accidents; and (4) complete community planning for residents, regardless of income, age or ideas, which results in better access to health resources.
Chang and Baskin-Sommers set out to learn more about how a disorderly neighborhood can influence trust. They share that “Neighborhood disorder (i.e., physical or social decay) is associated with decreased trust, which reinforces criminal behavior for some individuals in these communities. . . . we examined the association between perceived neighborhood disorder and facial trustworthiness perception. . . . findings suggest that similarly processing trustworthy and untrustworthy faces . . .
Besser and team studied the responses of several older user groups to neighborhood design. More specifically, they “examined whether neighborhood built environment (BE) and cognition associations in older adults vary by apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype, a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). . . . Neighborhood characteristics included social and walking destination density (SDD, WDD), intersection density, and proportion of land dedicated to retail. Individuals were categorized as APOE ε2 (lower AD risk), APOE ε4 (higher AD risk), or APOE ε3 carriers.
Stappers and colleagues investigated how user perceptions of neighborhood walkability influence movement by different groups. They determined via data collected in The Netherlands that “individuals with a lower level of education or health-related problems spent more time in the home neighborhood. The perceived neighborhood walkability only affected [empirically measured] NB-PA [neighborhood-based physical activity] for individuals spending a relatively large amount of time in their home neighborhood.
Researchers from McGill and the University of California, Santa Cruz have identified a cause of increasing urban sprawl. Barrington-Leigh and Millard-Ball report that “the local streets of the world’s cities are becoming less connected, a global trend that is driving urban sprawl and discouraging the use of public transportation. . . . in large parts of the world, recent urban growth has increasingly resulted in inflexible and disconnected street networks. . . . Gridded street networks . . . promote efficient, dense urban form in Bolivia, Argentina and Peru.
More benefits from designing for walking
Park and Evans assessed the current relevance of Lynch’s work. They share that “Kevin Lynch’s The Image of the City (1960) identified five physical elements—path, edge, district, node, and landmark—that are the building blocks of place. Both the physical and sociocultural function of these elements, along with their locations, affects how we comprehend (legibility) and generate meaning of place (imageability). . . . dependence on LBS [location-based services, online applications that reflect users’ geographic locations and include navigation apps . . local weather functions. . .
Keijzer and colleagues set out to confirm the health benefits of living near greenspaces. They determined that “More residential surrounding greenspace was associated with lower risk of metabolic syndrome. . . . Metabolic syndrome is an important risk factor for non-communicable diseases, particularly type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and stroke. . . . The present longitudinal study was based on data from four clinical examinations between 1997 and 2013 in 6076 participants of the Whitehall II study, UK (aged 45–69 years at baseline).
Glasgow and teammates evaluated mood during travel by contacting people periodically during their journeys via their phones. The researchers found that “Mood differed as a function of exposure to various built and natural environments. . . . Positive mood was higher for pedestrians and for bicyclists [than for people engaged in motorized travel]. . . . Interpersonal conversation during trips was associated with more positive mood. . . . Errand trips were associated with more negative mood compared to other trips. . .
Crucial resource for designing in walkability