Walk it Out

School is now over but I thought I would give you a taste of one last assignment. It was about measuring walkability on street segments. All of the segments were around homes of students in the class and two students rated each segment. The segments were initially rated using Walkscore.com but it is mostly based on crow-fly proximity to businesses so it doesn’t say anything about walkability (for example how pleasurable it is to walk on the segment). The only real outcome we could obtain from the assessment tool that we used was a rating of the other pedestrians on the segment. We turned it into a presence/absence indicator and found that the number of land uses on a segment as well as a higher rating of the segment’s sidewalk quality and interesting sights all increased the odds of observing pedestrians on a segment. It was a first look at some rough data but the results are not too unbelievable. We even controlled for median income, auto ownership, age of the neighborhood and density.

But why look at that? Is walking to the store or a bus stop really physical activity? I have a hard time convincing myself of that sometimes. Regardless educating people about what IS physical activity and how they can fit it in their lives is something that is talked about a lot in the field. I found this graphic (originally published in the New York times Magazine with an article about France’s jogging President) to be very interesting. I think it is getting at the point that information about a behavior like physical activity can affect an individuals’ behaviors. There was not much more than this graphic and it didn’t fit with the article exactly but judging by the metrics and the jogging part of the piece I think that’s what they’re talking about. If I find more I will let you know but take a look it’s really interesting. One thing I wonder about is why is the ‘informed’ group skinnier than the control at time 1?

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