Monday, May 2, 2011

Grant Proposal Submitted - Walking in Washington

In collaboration with Stephen Wheeler, Ph.D. AICP, we laid the foundation for my (unofficial) dissertation proposal this week by submitting an application for a faculty grant with the University of California, Davis' Sustainable Transportation Center for the following project. We are very excited and look forward to hearing the results!


Although the character of built environments is widely acknowledged as an important factor in promoting walking and other forms of physical activity, knowledge of specific environmental determinants of pedestrian travel is still evolving. The recent spread of transit-oriented development in major U.S. cities, often influenced by movements such as the New Urbanism, offers an opportunity to study the effect of detailed urban design strategies on pedestrian activity. This study will analyze pedestrian behavior in correlation with built environments of three neighborhoods around recently built stations of Metrorails’s Green and Yellow Lines in Washington, D.C. These neighborhoods share many characteristics of historical built form and socioeconomic diversity, but have experienced differing amounts and types of redevelopment. Following methods pioneered by Whyte (1980), Moudon et al. (1997), Neckerman et al. (2009) and others, the research includes detailed analysis of urban design characteristics at a block scale, systematic observation of pedestrian activity, and (in a later phase) interviews with pedestrians. The overall intent is to shed light on the following question: What factors, including recent urban design and built form innovations, affect the quality of the pedestrian environment and individual decisions to walk or take transit?

Moudon, Anne Vernez, Paul M. Hess, Catherine Snyder, and Kiril Stanilov. 1997. Effects of Site Design on Pedestrian Travel in Mixed-Use, Medium-Density Environments. Transportation Research Record: The Journal of the Transportation Research Board 1578: 48-55.

Neckerman, Kathryn M., Gina S. Lovasi, Stephen Davies, Marnie Purciel, James Quinn, Eric Feder, Nakita Raghunath, Benjamin Wasserman, and Andrew Rundle. 2009. Disparities
in Urban Neighborhood Conditions: Evidence from GIS Measures and Field Observation in New York City. Journal of Public Health Policy 30: 264-285.

Whyte, William H. 1980. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Washington D.C.: The Conservation Foundation.