Archives: Density

 

Lucy 2003 - “Mortality Risk Associated With Leaving Home: Recognizing the Relevance of the Built Environment”

Lucy, William H.
“Mortality Risk Associated With Leaving Home: Recognizing the Relevance of the Built Environment”
American Journal of Public Health
September 2003; v.93,n.9; pp.1564-1569
On the Web
Relevance: high

In looking traffic fatalities and homicides by stranger in 15 metropolitan areas, Lucy concluded that traffic fatalities pose a real danger to living in low density areas that should be balanced against the expected lower crime risk.  In short, he found that exurban areas were often more dangerous than central cities or inner suburbs, primarily due to the higher risk of traffic fatalities.  Low-density, outer counties had the most traffic fatalities and homicides by stranger while some inner suburban counties were the least dangerous areas overall.

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Gordon 1999 - “Are Compact Cities a Desirable Planning Goal?”

Gordon, Peter; Richardson Harry W.
“Are Compact Cities a Desirable Planning Goal?”
Journal of the American Planning Association.
Winter 1997: v.63, n.1; pp.95-105.
On the Web
Relevance: low

Gordon and Richardson dispute the need for promoting compact development (see Ewing (1997) for a rebuttal).  They claim that standard suburban development:

  • does not encroach on prime agricultural land,
  • is preferred by consumers,
  • is not less efficient for travel than compact development,
  • does not consume more energy (and energy is not scarce),
  • does not increase congestion (an may, in fact, reduce it), and
  • does not increase infrastructure and public service costs.

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Ewing 1997 - “Is Los Angeles-Style Sprawl Desirable?”

Ewing, Reid
“Is Los Angeles-Style Sprawl Desirable?”
Journal of American Planning Association.
Winter 1997; v.63, n.1; pp.107-126.
On the Web
Relevance: medium

In a literature review Ewing discusses the characteristics, causes, and costs of sprawl, refuting pro-sprawl arguments by Gordon and Richardson.  Causes include land market failure and housing and transportation subsidies.  Costs include longer commutes, energy consumption, air pollution, and loss of open space, among other things.  This article is a good introduction to the subject.

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Saelens 2003 - “Neighborhood-Based Differences in Physical Activity: An Environment Scale Evaluation”

Saelens, Brian E.; Sallis, James F.; Black, Jennifer B.; Chen, Diana.
“Neighborhood-Based Differences in Physical Activity: An Environment Scale Evaluation”
American Journal of Public Health

September 2003; v.93, n.9.
On the Web
Relevance: high

Saelens et al conducted a small preliminary study using accelerometers and surveys to analyze how activity levels and body mass indexes differ between two neighborhoods: one with high-walkability, one with low-walkability.  They found that residents of high-walkability neighborhoods walked more for errands, engaged in more moderate to vigorous physical activity, and were less likely to be overweight.  Interestingly, this study suggests that walkability primarily affects walking for errands but not walking for exercise.

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Craig 2002 - “Exploring the Effect of the Environment on Physical Activity: A Study Examining Walking to Work”

Craig CS, Brownson RC, Cragg SE, Dunn AL.
“Exploring the Effect of the Environment on Physical Activity: A Study Examining Walking to Work.”
American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
August 2002; v.23,n.2S2,s.1; pp36-43.
On the Web
Relevance: medium

Craig et al combined Canadian census data (demographics and journey to work) with neighborhood observations of walkability (density, diversity, design, safety) to find that environmental factors do influence walking to work.  Urbanization had the largest effect but variety of destinations, ease of walking, and social dynamics also played a role.

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Burchell 2003 - "Conventional Development Versus Managed Growth: The Costs of Sprawl"

Burchell RW and Mukherji S.
“Conventional Development Versus Managed Growth: The Costs of Sprawl.”  American Journal of Public Health.
December 2003; v.91, n.9; pp1534-1540.1
On the Web
relevance: medium

Using a mathematical model to compare the effects of sprawl versus compact development, the authors find that sprawl requires converting more undeveloped land and building more roads and water/sewer infrastructure.  Sprawl also leads to higher pubic service costs and housing costs.

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Frank 2004 - "Obesity Relationships with Community Design, Physical Activity, and Time Spent in Cars"

Lawrence D. Frank, Martin A. Anderson, Thomas L. Schmid
"Obesity Relationships with Community Design, Physical Activity, and Time Spent in Cars"
American Journal of Preventative Medicine
2004; 27(2), pp87-96

Based on a survey of 10,878 Atlanta residents taken in 2000-2002, Frank and colleagues investigated the relationships among body mass index (BMI), time spent in cars, distance walked, and built environment measures (including residential density, street connectivity, and land use mix) within a 1-km walk or drive of respondents' homes.

Adjusting for demographics, each quartile increase in land use mix was associated with a 12.2 percent reduction in the odds of being obese.  More time spent in cars increased the risk of obesity:  an additional 60 minutes per day in the car translated into an additonal 6 percent odds of being obese.  Each kilometer walked translated into a 4.8 percent reduction in the odds of being obese.

However, connectivity and residential density were not significantly related to obesity; though they were closely correlated with land use mix.

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Freeman 2001 - "The Effects of Sprawl on Neighborhood Social Ties: An Explanatory Analysis"

Freeman, Lance
“The Effects of Sprawl on Neighborhood Social Ties: An Explanatory Analysis.”
Journal of the American Planning Association.
Winter 2001; v.67, n.1; pp69-77
Relevance: medium

To test whether low-density sprawl weakens neighborhood social bonds, Freeman compared survey data on neighborhood social ties with the density and demographic characteristics of the census blockgroups in which the respondents lived.

After controlling for poverty and other factors, he concluded that residential density is not significantly related to the formation of neighborhood social ties; however, such ties are affected by how much neighborhood residents rely on their cars.

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Lopez 2004 - “Urban Sprawl and Risk for Being Overweight or Obese”

Lopez, Russ, MCRP, DSc
“Urban Sprawl and Risk for Being Overweight or Obese”
American Journal of Public Health
September 2004; v.94, n.9; pp1574-1579
On the web
Relevance: High

Lopez compared responses to the CDC's nationwide Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey with a "sprawl index," derived from 2000 US Census data, that measured density and compactness in 330 US metro areas. The results: living in a sprawling, low-density metro area increased the risk of being overweight or obese.

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