t ra n s po r t a t i o n p o l i cyStudy Finds That Those atIncome Extremes Are 50 PercentMore Likely to Walk in CitiesTh...
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NYU Research Digest: Walking in Today's Cities


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Article from NYU Research Digest featuring a report on walking in today's cities by Andrew Mondschein, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Urban Planning

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NYU Research Digest: Walking in Today's Cities

  1. 1. t ra n s po r t a t i o n p o l i cyStudy Finds That Those atIncome Extremes Are 50 PercentMore Likely to Walk in CitiesThan Those in the Middle ClassBy Robert PolnerE ver wonder who is walking America’s vast urban streets? In the study “More than Just the cost of travel by otherExercise: Walking in Today’s means, public or private, that is,Cities,” Andrew Mondschein, to save money out of necessity.a research scientist with the In the middle, writes Mond­Rudin Center for Transporta- schein, are those who lack timetion and Management at the or flexibility to avail themselvesRobert F. Wagner Graduate of the benefits that walking pro-School of Public Service, finds vides and are more dependent Lifestyle pedestrians walk in order to see and be seen, experience theirthat those who choose to on their car or choice of transit. urban surroundings in a more robust way, meet up with friends, and,walk are principally the poor Mondschein’s study will be though less common, for exercise.and the rich, not those in the presented in January at thebroad socio-economic middle. annual meeting of the Trans- modifications, such as wider thereby reducing uncertainty And if that’s true, as the study portation Research Board (part sidewalks and pedestrian and other impediments to walk-suggests, then policy mak- of the National Academies of plazas. But changing the built ing. In that way more peopleers, planners, and activists still Science). It is based on the environment may be less than could find out before set-have a lot to learn about the 2009 National Household Travel successful if lower-income ting out on foot to a popularrole walking plays in people’s Survey, a dataset with detailed people are walking primarily of restaurant or movie whetherlives and a city’s welfare, and information on individual trips, necessity or, as the analysis also the trip is likely to be worthespecially how to get people trip purposes, and travelers’ found, higher-status individuals the extra physical effort.out of their cars for the sake position in the social hierarchy. are choosing to walk as a For now, Mondschein recom-of cleaner air, less conges- “Particularly for high-density complement to other modes of mends further study of higher-tion, and healthier hearts. areas,” he writes, “walking travel and not as a substitute. status individuals in particular In the study, Mondschein shows a very distinct pat- Alternatively, some cities in order to understand, in ever-finds that city pedestrians fit tern where individuals at hope that higher tolls or more refined ways, where theyinto one of two categories: “life- either extreme of the income- congestion pricing can reduce walk and why, and the impactstyle” or “necessity” walkers. education scale choose to driving. But while raising the the lifestyle walker has on the These two types of urban walk over 50% more often cost of automobile use may local economy and the well-way-finders take to the streets than those in the middle. cause more to walk, increased being of urban communities.on foot at roughly equivalent “Notably,” the study adds, walking might come at the “This type of walking mayrates, but for different reasons. “this pattern is not replicated price of reduced mobility not directly result in VMT re-Lifestyle pedestrians walk in among the other ‘alternative for the middle class, as the ductions or increased publicorder to see and be seen, expe- modes.’ Transit use gener- middle tends to have farther health, but it may help explainrience their urban surroundings ally declines with the increase to travel and makes more why neighborhoods like SoHoin a more robust way, meet in socio-economic status, trips than the lower end of in New York, South Beach inup with friends, and, though and bike travel is flat.” the socio-economic ladder. Miami, Lincoln Park in Chicago,less common, for exercise. To reduce vehicle miles A more-promising way to cut or any number of other great The “necessity” walker puts traveled, or VMT, cities have VMT may be to increase access walking neighborhoods nation-shoe leather to asphalt to offset invested in streetscape to information technologies, wide persist and thrive.” n PERMIT NO. 7931 New York, NY 10012 25 West Fourth St. NEW YORK, NY University Relations and Public Affairs PAID New York University U.S. POSTAGE NON-PROFIT ORG. Research Digest