Urban Environment

Walkability Near Parks Key (07-30-19)

Zuniga-Teran lead a team which determined that parks are used more when the routes potential users would take to them are more walkable.  The investigators found that “Walkable neighborhoods may predict a higher frequency of greenspace use.  Walking as a mode to reach greenspace may predict higher frequency of greenspace visitation.  Driving as a mode to reach greenspace may predict lower frequency of use of greenspace. Proximity to greenspace may not predict the frequency of greenspace visitation for residents. . .

Green Space Parameters and Health (07-29-19)

Astell-Burt and Feng linked the mental and physical health of city-dwelling people over 45 years old to the extensiveness of the tree canopies and the amount of grass near their homes. They determined that “exposure to 30% or more tree canopy compared with 0% to 9% tree canopy was associated with 31% lower odds of incident psychological distress, whereas exposure to 30% or more grass was associated with 71% higher odds of prevalent psychological distress after adjusting for age, sex, income, economic status, couple status, and educational level.

Happiness, Public Spaces (07-09-19)

Benita, Bansal, and Tuncer set out to learn more about the emotions people feel in public spaces. They specifically probed momentary subjective wellbeing (M-SWB).  During the data collection process, students (age 7 to 18) “wore a sensor for one week, and happy moments were captured as well as geospatial and environmental data throughout the country. This is a large-scale in-the-wild user study. The findings provide weak empirical evidence that visiting parks and community centers increase the probability of experiencing M-SWB compared with commercial areas. . . .

When Do People Walk? (06-24-19)

How are crime and the amount of walking done in that area related?  Foster and teammates found that  “Interrelationships between neighborhood walkability, area disadvantage, and crime may contribute to the inconsistent associations between crime and walking. . . . Participants . . . from 200 neighborhoods spanning the most and least disadvantaged in Brisbane, Australia, completed a questionnaire and objective measures were generated for the individual-level 1,000-m neighborhood. . . .

Neighborhood Evaluations (06-03-19)

Douglas, Russell, and Scott add to the body of research on resident responses to neighborhoods. They report that “Data [used in their analyses] are drawn from a household survey questionnaire completed by 483 residents living in three neighbourhoods in Dublin, Ireland – an inner city neighbourhood, a suburb and a peri-urban settlement. Positive perceptions of green and open space were identified as important predictors of high levels of neighbourhood satisfaction, surpassed only by dwelling characteristics.

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 . .


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