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167722-1 Report Abstract

Correlates of Environmental Constructs and Perceived Safety Enhancements in Pedestrian Corridors Adjacent to Urban Streets

Byoung-Suk Kweon, Jody Rosenblatt Naderi, Praveen Maghelal and Woo-Hwa Shin, Texas A&M University, April 2004, 91 pp. (167722-1)

Motivated by growing national health concerns related to early onset of obesity and obesity related diseases, the research team asked parents of young children to describe the ideal street where their child could develop the habit of walking, as well as connecting with the earth, and themselves.

A multi-ethnic, multi-monied focus group made up of participants from elementary schools in the twin cities were asked about perceptions of safety as it related to allowing their children to walk to school. Researchers then developed and tested the findings in two modalities:

1) A platform for “clinically” testing the perception of safety. This platform was a 3-dimensional interactive street environment that could be affected by alterations in the physical construct of the environment; the interactive street environment was constructed according to focus group findings.
2) A measure describing the physical constructs of the walking environment on residential streets, defined as significant by the focus groups.

Researchers examined the following questions:

1) Do different streetscapes influence parent’s perception of safety?
2)Does lateral separation from the vehicular travel-way influence whether a parent will allow their child to walk to school?
3) How are perceptions of safety and spatial edge related to each other?
4) Are there consistencies in the way people measure and describe the walking environment in the field?

The results from the trials on-site and in the simulation laboratory suggest that people do perceive different levels of safety when the physical environment is altered and that this perception affects feelings about allowing their children to walk to school. Lateral separation from the traffic with a green buffer had a significant positive effect on perception that the sidewalk was safe for their children. However the decision to allow the child to walk or not is not based solely on the physical characteristic of the environment; economic and social reasons are important determinants as well.

Keywords: Pedestrian Environments and Safety, Landscape Urban Design and Health, Pedestrian Simulation, Context Sensitive Design, Children and School Pedestrian Environments

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 1.7 MB)