New Urbanism and Resident Walking: Behavioral Characteristics and Differences between Two Contemporary Communities

By Suk-Kyung Kim, Jaechoon Lee and Mira Ahn.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Many studies have stated that residential areas developed by the New Urbanism concept increased walking and cycling trips, which in turn reduced vehicle trips. We conducted a study to examine walking-related behavioral characteristics and differences between residents in two types of communities: a mixed-use neotraditional community following design and planning principles of the New Urbanism and a recent conventional suburban community that considered walking in its design but did not exactly follow those principles. Both communities selected for our study were constructed in the early 2000s and targeted middle-income families. The two sites located in two adjacent census tracts had strong similarities in terms of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of residents. They also showed similar geographic characteristics (i.e., surrounded by preserved natural areas and open spaces) and were located within similar distance from the central business district (CBD). We conducted site observations and a survey administered to residents in both areas. We selected subjects randomly from lists of every house in the communities, and mailed out surveys to a total of 500 households, of which 106 responded. Results showed statistical differences in residents’ walking behaviors and characteristics (i.e., reason for walking, walking distances) between the two communities. We found no statistical difference in nonrecreational walking (i.e., commuting, going shopping, and going to school) between residents of the two communities, however. Further analyses assessed whether design and planning principles applied in the new urbanist community affected residents’ walking behaviors.

Keywords: New Urbanist Community, Conventional Community, Walking Behaviors

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.13-32. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.298MB).

Dr. Suk-Kyung Kim

Assistant Professor, School of Planning, Design, and Construction, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

Dr. Suk-Kyung Kim is an Assistant Professor in the School of Planning, Design, and Construction at Michigan State University. She received a Ph.D. in Architecture from Texas A&M University in 2006, a M.S. and a B.S. in Housing and Interior Design from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. She has been conducting a good number of research studies regarding affordable housing, energy-efficient housing, child-friendly residential environments, high-tech amenities for the elderly, New Urbanism, the defensible space theory for residential properties, and the supportive design theory for healthcare design. She has been an active member for several organizations such as the Environmental Design and Research Association and Housing Education and Research Association. She also serves several scholarly journals as a board member, such as the Journal of Architectural and Planning Research and the Journal of Korean Housing Association.

Dr. Jaechoon Lee

Research Associate, Greater Lansing Housing Coalition, Lansing, Michigan, USA

Dr. Jaechoon Lee received his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the Ohio State University. He is a Research Associate in the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition in Michigan. He is specialized in housing and transportation planning. He is an expert in census data analysis and statistical modeling. He coauthored several research articles about housing policies for low-income families with his colleagues. He is currently working for the projects funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that will propose a fair and affordable housing plan for the region.

Dr. Mira Ahn

Assistant Professor, School of Family and Consumer Sciences, Texas State University – San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas, USA

Dr. Mira Ahn is an Assistant Professor in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Texas State University. She received her doctorate in Housing from Virginia Tech. Her research has focused on the relationships between housing and the environment, especially housing for the elderly and changing environments surrounding the aging population. It concentrates on perceptions and housing adjustment behavior of older adults related to their home environment and adoption of residential technologies by older adults. She has also conducted several housing affordability research for the elderly.