UBC Theses and Dissertations
Harnessing neighbourhood walkability’s health potential by providing a supportive pedestrian environment : a comparative analysis across demographic and psychosocial factors Adhikari, Binay
Cities and municipalities have invested a significant amount of their time and budgets in creating walkable neighbourhoods to help their citizens be healthier. However, they have not been able to harness the health potential of neighbourhood walkability fully. This study examines whether neighbourhood walkability’s health potential can be harnessed by providing a supportive pedestrian environment. Specifically, it examines whether there is a synergistic effect of neighbourhood walkability and the pedestrian environment on physical activity in children, teens, and older adults. A synergistic effect, or “synergism,” occurs when two or more processes (or factors) interact so that their collective effect is greater than the sum of their separate effects (Myers, 1989, p. 506). This can also be called a “multiplicative effect.” Cities and municipalities are often constrained by budgetary restrictions and need to make decisions that give the highest return. Understanding the synergy between neighbourhood walkability and the pedestrian environment is essential for planners and policymakers to make investment decisions cost-effective and maximize walkable neighbourhoods' health potential. The synergy between neighbourhood walkability and the pedestrian environment is assessed using a series of interaction models. Interaction models help researchers understand the multiplicative effect of two or more factors on an outcome. This study shows various patterns of interactions between neighbourhood walkability and the pedestrian environment across demographic and psychosocial factors. Planners and policymakers have started to recognize the effects of their decisions on active transport, physical activity, and related health outcomes. However, the century-long land-use and transportation planning approach has created an urban form that requires significant effort to become favourable for walking and physical activity. Making small-scale changes to the pedestrian environment can be an effective approach to fine-tune some of the existing infrastructure created to make neighbourhoods walkable. The evidence provided in this study, though not fully generalizable, is useful for city planning authorities to formulate plans and policies to design better pedestrian environments that can help retrofit the existing urban infrastructure and harness the health potential of neighbourhood walkability.
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International