"Pedestrian Environments and Sense of Community"
Journal of Planning Education and Research
2002 Associate of Collegiate Schools of Planning
On the Web
Lund's study is intended to gauge the community effects of New Urbanism-style architecture and neighborhood design. The study is conducted in two Portland neighborhoods, an inner-city neighborhood with traditional design and a modern-style suburban neighborhood (post-WWII). Researchers distributed questionaires door-to-door in the two neighborhoods using questions similar to the Nasar study. They got 57 responses (22 percent) in the traditional neighborhood and 49 (18.8 percent) in the suburban neighborhood.
The study found more sense of community in the traditional neighborhood than in the modern suburb. The most powerful subjective explanatory variable was "perception of walking"--the better that people felt about walking in the neighborhood, the higher their sense of community. Interestingly, there is one big counterpoint to this: the study found a negative correlation between destination trips (walking to the store or for other errands) and sense of community. That is, the more likely people are to walk to destinations, the lower their sense of community. Strolling trips--walking for pleasure--are positively associated with community, but destination trips are negatively associated.
One failing of this research is that the respondents are self-selected and many not be statistically accurate representations of their communities. Also, the number of respondents is relatively low and it may be difficult to obtain statistically valid results when using controls or regressions. Finally, we cannot be sure whether people's behavior and attitudes are determined by their urban environment, or whether people self-select into neighborhoods that reflect their values and preferences.