The Built Environment Archives 3
- To assess existing research on the effects of various interventions on levels of bicycling. Interventions include infrastructure (e.g., bike lanes and parking), integration with public transport, education and marketing programs, bicycle access programs, and legal issues.
- A comprehensive search of peer-reviewed and non-reviewed research identified 139 studies. Study methodologies varied considerably in type and quality, with few meeting rigorous standards. Secondary data were gathered for 14 case study cities that adopted multiple interventions.
- Many studies show positive associations between specific interventions and levels of bicycling. The 14 case studies show that almost all cities adopting comprehensive packages of interventions experienced large increases in the number of bicycle trips and share of people bicycling.
- Most of the evidence examined in this review supports the crucial role of public policy in encouraging bicycling. Substantial increases in bicycling require an integrated package of many different, complementary interventions, including infrastructure provision and pro-bicycle programs, supportive land use planning, and restrictions on car use.
Pucher, Dill, and Handy, “Infrastructure, Programs, and Policies to Increase Bicycling,” Preventive Medicine, Jan 2010, Vol. 50, S.1, pp. S106-S125.
“The Built Environment and School Travel Mode Choice in Toronto, Canada” (2010)
- Understanding the potential relationship between the built environment and active school transportation (e.g., walking) empirically is essential to the development of effective planning interventions.
- This study examines the association between the built environment and the likelihood of walking or being driven to or from school. The research also addresses differences in mode choice behavior across morning and afternoon period school trips.
- Binomial logit models were specified to study the school travel outcomes of children, aged 11-13 years, in the City of Toronto, Canada.
- Distance between the residence and school had the strongest correlation with mode choice; other built environment measures had moderate associations with walking. Importantly, the built environment around a child’s residence had a stronger association with mode choice than did the built environment around the school. Furthermore, the effect of the built environment was more apparent for home-to-school trips.
- This research provides evidence that the built environment may influence school travel mode choice, but planners and community-based organizations should exercise caution when determining the nature of interventions required to encourage walking among children.
Mitra, R., Buliung, RN, Roorda, MJ. "Built Environment and School Travel Mode Choice in Toronto, Canada." Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. 2156 (2010): 150-159.
- Walking to and from school contributes to total physical activity levels. This study investigated whether perceived and actual neighborhood features were associated with walking to or from school among adolescent girls.
- A sample of 890 geographically diverse eighth-grade girls completed a self-administered survey on their neighborhood features and walking behavior. GIS data were used to assess objective neighborhood features.
- The study found that:
- 56 percent of the girls walked to or from school for at least 1 day in a week.
- White (42%) girls walked more frequently than Hispanic (25%) and African American (21%) girls.
- Girls were nearly twice as likely to walk to or from school if they perceived their neighborhoods as safe and perceived that they had places they liked to walk.
- Girls who lived closer to school, had more active destinations in their neighborhood, and had smaller-sized blocks were more likely to walk to or from school than those who did not.
- Safety, land use, and school location issues need to be considered together when designing interventions to increase walking to and from school.
Voorhees, CC, Ashwood, S, Evenson, KR, Sirard, JR, Rung, AL, Dowda, M, Mckenzie, TL. “Neighborhood design and perceptions: relationship with active commuting.” Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports And Exercise. 42.7 (2010): 1253-1260.
- The purpose of this study is to identify the perceived environmental factors that support or hinder physical activity among rural children to develop testable hypotheses to inform future interventions for reducing unhealthy weight gain and preventing chronic diseases associated with physical inactivity.
- PhotoVOICE was used to explore active living opportunities and barriers for children living in four low-income, rural U.S. communities. In 2007, parents and elementary school staff received disposable cameras to document their perspective. Using their photographs and narratives, participants developed emergent themes during a facilitated group discussion. Study authors used the Analysis Grid for Environments Linked to Obesity (ANGELO) framework to categorize the themes.
- Microenvironment themes include physical (e.g., natural features, topography); sociocultural (e.g., isolation); policy (e.g., time for school recess); and economic (e.g., funding for physical activity programs). Macroenvironmental themes related to the built and natural environments and transportation infrastructure.
- This study identified rural environment elements that community members perceived as influencing children’s physical activity patterns. Certain aspects were unique to rural areas, whereas other urban and suburban factors may be generalizable to rural settings.
Hennessy, E., Kraak, VI., Hyatt, RR., Bloom, J., Fenton, M., Wagoner, C., and Economos, CD. “Active Living for Rural Children: Community Perspectives Using PhotoVoice.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 39.6 (2010): 537-545.
- This study examined the association between the level of physical activity (PA) friendliness of the built environment and adolescent PA and body mass index using a national sample of youth and data collected from the communities where they reside.
- Data on height, weight, and PA were taken from annual nationally representative cross-sectional Monitoring the Future surveys of 8th and 10th graders in schools, from 2001 through 2003.
- Measures of safety, outdoor and commercial PA settings, and urban sprawl were constructed using data collected from the communities in which the students reside. Multilevel models were run and controlled for youth and community demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.
- Increased levels of physical disorder were associated with decreased PA and higher weight.
- A greater number of commercial PA facilities was associated with increased PA. More compact communities were associated with lower weight and less sports participation.
Slater, SJ, Ewing, R, Powell, LM, Chaloupka, FJ, Johnston, LD, and O’Malley, PM. “The Association between Community Physical Activity Setting and Youth Physical Activity, Obesity, and Body Mass Index.” The Journal of Adolescent Health. 47.5 (2010): 496-503.
- This study aims to assess whether objectively measured characteristics of the neighborhood, route, and school environments are associated with active commuting to school among children, and it explores whether distance acts as a moderator in this association.
- A cross-sectional study was conducted of 2012 children (899 boys and 1113 girls) aged 9-10 years attending 92 schools in the county of Norfolk, United Kingdom.
- Children who lived in a more deprived area and whose route to school was direct were less likely to walk or cycle to school, whereas those who had a higher density of roads in their neighborhood were more likely to walk.
- Children whose routes had a high density of streetlights were less likely to cycle to school.
- Objectively measured neighborhood and route factors are associated with walking and cycling to school.
- Distance did not moderate the associations found in this study.
- Creating safe environments by improving urban design may influence children’s commuting behavior.
Panter JR, Jones AP, Van Sluijs EM, and Griffin SJ. “Neighborhood, Route, and School Environments and Children’s Active Commuting.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 38.3 (2010): 268-78.
- This study examines changes in state-specific obesity and overweight prevalence among US children and adolescents between 2003 and 2007 through a cross-sectional analysis of National Survey of Children’s Health data.
- Results indicate that in 2007, 16.4% of US children were obese and 31.6% were overweight.
- Mississippi has the highest prevalence of childhood obesity and overweight (21.9%) and Oregon has the lowest (9.6%).
- Between 2003 and 2007obesity prevalence increased by 10% for all US children.
- Individual, household, and neighborhood social and built environmental characteristics accounted for 45% and 42% of the state variance in childhood obesity and overweight.
- Researchers suggest that substantial geographic disparities in childhood obesity and overweight exist, indicating potential for considerable reduction in US childhood obesity.
Singh, Gopal K., Kogan, Michael, D., and van Dyck, Peter C. “Changes in State-Specific Childhood Obesity and Overweight Prevalence in the United States From 2003 to 2007.” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 164.7 (2010).
- This study examines the association between the level of physical activity (PA), friendliness of the built environment and adolescent physical activity and body mass index using a national sample of youth and data collected from the communities where they reside.
- Increased levels of area deprivation were associated with decreased physical activity and higher weight.
- A greater number of commercial physical activity facilities was associated with increased physical activity.
- More compact communities were associated with lower weight and less sports participation.
- Researchers suggest that it is important to explore these associations to help guide future development patterns and land use policies to create more active neighborhoods.
Slater, Sandy J., Ewing, Reid, Powell, Lisa M., Chaloupka, Frank J., Johnston, Lloyd D., and O’Malley, Patrick M. “The Association Between Community Physical Activity Settings and Youth Physical Activity, Obesity, and Body Mass Index. Journal of Adolescent Health. (2010): 1-8.
- In this study, researchers stress the importance in considering the role of neighborhoods in supporting children’s physical activity and healthy development, especially in low-income communities where obesity levels among children are higher than for their middle-income counterparts.
- This study is a participatory and qualitative GIS approach to mapping children’s own perceptions and use of their neighborhood for physical activity among ten and eleven year-olds growing up in a diverse low-income community in Denver, CO.
- Girls walk shorter distances to and use different types of community spaces for play and recreation from boys, some of which is explained by the differing environmental-socialization approaches employed by parents and caregivers.
- Children’s perceptions of risk align spatially with features of the built environment, but do not correlate with reported crime.
- Results illustrate the utility of qualitative spatial analysis to understand relationships between children’s perception, the built environment, and social factors that shape children’s active transport, leisure, and recreation in their neighborhood.
- Children’s local knowledge should be valued and solicited in community-level health and planning interventions to promote physical activity.
Wridt, Pamela. “A Qualitative GIS Approach to Mapping Urban Neighborhoods with Children to Promote Physical Activity and Child-Friendly Community Planning.” Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design. 37.2 (2010): 129-147.
- Recent research suggests that racial residential segregation may be detrimental to health.
- This study investigates the influence of neighborhood racial isolation on obesity and considers the role of neighborhood disorder as a mediator in this relationship.
- For the city of Philadelphia, researchers find that residence in a neighborhood with high black racial isolation is associated with a higher body mass index and higher odds of obesity among women, but not men, highlighting important sex differences in the influence of neighborhood structure on health.
- The influence of high racial isolation on women’s weight status is mediated, in part, by the physically disordered nature of such neighborhoods. Disorder of a more social nature (as measured by incident crime) is not associated with weight status.
Chang, Virginia W., Hillier, Amy E., and Mehta, Neil K. “Neighborhood Racial Isolation, Disorder and Obesity.” Social Forces. 87.4 (2010): 2063-2092.
- In this study, McDonald traces the evolution of school siting standards, explains the factors currently influencing school facility location decisions, and identifies what local and regional planners could contribute to school siting decisions.
- Smart growth proponents advocate community schools that are small and intimately linked to neighborhoods
- School facility planners tent to expect community schools to meet the needs of entire localities.
- McDonald recommends communities consider tradeoffs associated with different schools sizes including:
- Walking distance for students
- Potential for sports fields
- School design
- Connections to neighborhoods
- McDonald also recommends that state school construction and siting policies support flexibility for localities and that local and regional planners should work with school facility planners to conduct exercises and charettes to help each community determine how to realize its own vision of community schools.
McDonald, Noreen. “School Siting: Contested Visions of the Community School.” Journal of the American Planning Association. 76.2 (2010).
- Using the Ecological Systems Theory (EST) as a model, researchers examined the existing literature with respect to neighborhood factors as outlined in EST, including factors related to the family and the school, which are embedded in larger social contexts of the community and society.
- Researchers found that progress has been made with respect to the body of evidence supporting the role of neighborhood factors on childhood obesity and obesity-related behaviors, although work remains to be done to enhance the understanding of neighborhood level factors.
- Implications of these studies will inform multilevel interventions which are urgently needed to tackle the growing epidemic of childhood obesity in the US.
Galvez, MP, Pearl, M, and Yen, IH. “Childhood obesity and the built environment.” Current Opinion in Pediatrics. (2010).
- This review assesses existing research on the effects of various interventions on levels of bicycling including infrastructure, integration with public transport, education and marketing program, bicycle access programs and legal issues.
- A review of 139 studies shows positive associations between specific interventions and levels of bicycling.
- A secondary review of 14 case studies of cities adopting multiple interventions show that almost all cities adopting comprehensive packages of interventions experienced large increases in the number of bicycle trips and share of people bicycling.
- Substantial increases in bicycling require an integrated package of many different, complementary interventions, including infrastructure provision and pro-bicycle programs, supportive land use planning, and restrictions on car use.
Pucher, John, Dill, Jennifer, and Handy, Susan. “Infrastructure programs and policies to increase bicycling: An international review.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 50 (2010): S106-S125.