Urban Environment

It’s Walkable, But Do They Walk? (08-11-17)

Travers and her colleagues investigated the link between walkability and actual walking among a group of Australian adults over 65 years old.  Looking at areas in a 400-meter radius around participants’ homes, the team “found no association between walkability of the built environment and walking behavior of participants. Although retirement village residents lived in more highly walkable environments, they did not walk more and their overall levels of physical activity were lower than those of community residents.”

Trees and Comfort (08-02-17)

Urban trees have an important effect on how weather is experienced.  Researchers from the University of British Columbia have found that “Even a single urban tree can help moderate wind speeds and keep pedestrians comfortable as they walk down the street, according to a new . . . study that also found losing a single tree can increase wind pressure on nearby buildings and drive up heating costs. . . . ‘We found that removing all trees can increase wind speed by a factor of two, which would make a noticeable difference to someone walking down the street.

Walking to Work and Mental Performance (07-27-17)

Hadavi linked how people commute to work and their performance once they get to the office.  She found that “the average level of attentional functioning among those who walk to work or school is significantly higher than that of those who drive or use public transportation (bus or train).”  Hadavi’s research has implications for office site selection decisions, for example.

Urban Green Spaces and Public Health (07-26-17)

Newly published research supports studies of relationships between urban green spaces and public health.  Van den Bosch and colleagues report that “We defined the indicator of green space accessibility as a proportion of an urban population living within a certain distance from a green space boundary. We developed a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based method and tested it in three case studies in Malmö, Sweden; Kaunas, Lithuania; and Utrecht, The Netherlands. . . .

Noise and Infertility (07-11-17)

Min and Min linked exposure to loud-ish noises and male infertility.  The researchers report that they “examined an association between daytime and nocturnal noise exposures over four years . . .. and subsequent male infertility.  We used the National Health Insurance Service-National Sample Cohort (2002–2013), a population-wide health insurance claims dataset. A total of 206,492 males of reproductive age (20–59 years) with no history of congenital malformations were followed up for an 8-year period. . . . Data on noise exposure was obtained from the National Noise Information System.  . .

Dirt’s Tale (06-29-17)

Bogard carefully details, in The Ground Beneath Us, how the dirt under our feet affects our lives.  He reports on the biological implications of paving over it, for example, and generally makes the point that the ground is a valuable resource that we should use wisely.  Dirt is much more than simply the outer skin of our planet and pavement may not really be our friend.  The text of The Ground Beneath Us makes it clear that dirt is closely tied to both our history and future as a species.

Biking and Stress Levels (06-23-17)

Brutus, Javadian, and Panaccio linked commuting to work by bicycle to lower stress levels among those who biked to the office just after they arrived at work—which should encourage urban planners to design in bicycle lanes and others to create on-site bicycle storage facilities.  The researchers learned that employees “who cycled to work were less stressed than their counterparts who arrived by car.


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