The Importance of the "Local" in Walkability

Academic Article


  • Transportation infrastructure and transportation behaviors consume significant natural resources and are costly to municipalities, states, and the federal government. Small cities, in particular, may find themselves with high costs. Although transportation has been extensively investigated, methods that may enable small cities to act are still lacking. To investigate the influence that neighborhood-level built environment characteristics have on adult personal transportation decisions within small cities, this study combined community-based research, a multi-level analysis of residents, and a case study approach in two (North-Eastern United States) New Hampshire cities, Portsmouth and Manchester. Neighborhood-level physical characteristics were determined using Geographic Information Systems and visual surveys. Resident-level characteristics and behaviors were determined by survey of adult residents. Data were supplemented with input from and collaboration with city representatives. The results showed significant relationships between self-reported destination walking and built environment characteristics in the neighborhoods studied. Furthermore, the results showed variability between neighborhoods, underscoring the importance of local factors and behaviors. The results suggested that small cities and their regional planning organizations can make changes to specific existing neighborhoods to remove barriers to walking and allow more residents to choose walking as a transportation mode, but the changes that are most effective vary by neighborhood.
  • Authors

  • Carlson, Cynthia
  • Aytur, Semra
  • Gardner, Kevin
  • Rogers, Shannon
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • December 2015
  • Published In

  • Buildings  Journal
  • Keywords

  • built environment
  • multi-level analysis
  • physical activity
  • small cities
  • walkability
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 1187
  • End Page

  • 1206
  • Volume

  • 5
  • Issue

  • 4