Urban Environment

Self-Driving Cars, Design Implications (04-23-19)

Research conducted at the University of Michigan indicates that people may decide to travel by car more frequently if they are using self-driving cars instead of human-piloted ones.  This increase in cars on the road, etc., is likely to have urban planning implications.  The University of Michigan team learned that “The benefits of self-driving cars will likely induce vehicle owners to drive more. . . . [researchers] used economic theory and U.S. travel survey data to model travel behavior and to forecast the effects of vehicle automation on travel decisions and energy use. . .

Cities: Past, Present, Future (04-17-19)

Smith’s book sheds light on the ways that cities have, can, and will support human beings as they pursue fundamental goals and motivations.  The functionalities and design patterns that archeologist Smith identifies in ancient cities are still relevant today and urban planners and interested others can gain useful insights into urban design best practices by reading Cities:  The First 6,000 Years.

Monica Smith. 2019.  Cities:  The First 6,000 Years.Viking:  New York.

Urban Design: Positive Repercussions (03-08-19)

Negami and colleagues investigated the psychological repercussions of urban design.  Their published study indicates that “the urban environment has great potential to shape residents’ experiences and social interactions, as well as to mitigate social isolation by promoting trust and sociability. The current study examines the effects of urban design interventions, such as colorful crosswalks and greenery, on participants’ mental well-being, sociability and feelings of environmental stewardship. Participants were led on walks of Vancouver’s West End neighborhood, stopping at six sites . .

Understanding Park Use (03-07-19)

Park probed factors linked to park use.  He reports that  “As the world becomes more urbanized, neighborhood parks are becoming an increasingly important venue where people engage in physical and social activities. Using park-use data collected by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the aim of this study is to account for park use in light of park attributes and neighborhood conditions. . .

Wellbeing and Parks (02-27-19)

Yuen and Jenkins link time spent in parks and higher feelings of wellbeing.  The team learned that “visitors from three urban parks completed a short questionnaire evaluating SWB [subjective well-being] (with two components: affect [emotion] and life satisfaction) immediately before and after their park visit. . . . Results indicated a significant improvement in SWB, affect, and life satisfaction scores of park visitor participants from before and after their visit. Duration of park visit was . . . associated with SWB scores, and . . .

Growing Up In Greener Areas (02-25-19)

An Engemann-lead team determined that growing up in greener areas has lifelong benefits.  The investigators found that “Green space presence was assessed at the individual level using high-resolution satellite data to calculate the normalized difference vegetation index within a 210 × 210 m square around each person’s place of residence (∼1 million people [in Denmark]) from birth to the age of 10. . . . high levels of green space presence during childhood are associated with lower risk of a wide spectrum of psychiatric disorders later in life.

Importance of Considering Culture (02-11-19)

A Konig-lead team confirms the important links between culture and the experience of place.  The researchers report that “The living environment plays a critical role in healthy aging. . . . The aim of this study was to shed light on older adults’ (. . .ages 70+) living situations and their demands on the neighborhood in two countries, the United States . . . and Germany. . . . Differences between countries were more pronounced than differences between age groups or living areas, indicating that cultural influence is a key aspect of needs assessment for neighborhood design. . . .


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