Issue 3, June 2010

Issue 3, June 2010

Active Living Research News

New ALR Research

Factors Associated with Bicycle and Pedestrian Investments, a new policy brief by Angie Cradock, summarizes research on federal transportation funding between 1992 and 2004. The research, funded by ALR, provides findings that can help inform future transportation policies and actions that aim to improve public health outcomes. The brief proposes the following key policy recommendations: 1) recognize the role of transportation policy in promoting public health; 2) improve data access and quality; and 3) target transportation funding to underserved communities.

The Economic Benefits of Open Space, Recreation Facilities and Walkable Community Design is a new ALR synthesis by Lilly Shoup and Reid Ewing. The synthesis summarizes the peer-reviewed and independent reports on the economic value of outdoor recreation facilities, open spaces and walkable community design, and focuses on "private" benefits that accrue to nearby homeowners and to other users of open space.

Grantee Studies

Pamela Wridt published a study that mapped children’s perceptions, and use, of their neighborhood for physical activity in a diverse, low-income community in Denver, Col. Wridt used both participatory methods and GIS data in compiling her findings, which include gender differences in children’s walking and recreational activity. The results demonstrate that children’s local knowledge should be valued and solicited in community-level health and planning interventions to promote physical activity.

Jennifer Wolch published a study examining disparities in park provision in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Findings show that inequitable distribution disproportionately impacts poor people of color, especially Latinos. The study describes a set of open access web-based decision support tools that can help planners, community groups, and advocates improve park access for all community members.

Jason Mendoza published a study validating instruments useful for evaluation of Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs. SRTS programs are designed to make walking and bicycling to school safe and accessible for children. The instruments validated in this study can assess important SRTS outcomes, such as type of student transport and pedestrian safety behaviors.

Virginia Chang published a study examining the influence of neighborhood racial isolation on obesity and the role neighborhood disorder (e.g. graffiti) plays in mediating this relationship. The study, conducted in Philadelphia, found that living in a neighborhood with high black racial isolation is linked to having a higher body mass index and higher odds of obesity among women, but not men. Findings also show that the influence of high racial isolation on women’s weight is partially mediated by neighborhood physical disorder.

Policy and Practice Impact Spotlight

Robert Cervero, chair of ALR’s National Advisory Committee, and Reid Ewing, an ALR grantee, have published Travel and the Built Environment: A Meta-Analysis. This review of nearly 50 studies finds that the most important factor in how much people drive is destination accessibility. The implication is that, to increase opportunities for active transport and to promote public health through physical activity, policy makers need to emphasize the revitalization and redevelopment of centrally located neighborhoods.

Pamela Wridt has created uMAP, a bilingual, practitioner-based website. The website, supported by an ALR study, provides a participatory community mapping process that engages youth and other residents living in urban areas in the planning, design and development of their neighborhoods and communities. Results from uMAP projects help policy makers and planners create environments and policies that improve young people’s lives.

Newsletter Date: 
Tuesday, June 1, 2010