Transportation & Urban Environment

Chenghe Guan, Jihoon Song, Michael Keith, Bo Zhang, Yuki Akiyama, Liangjun Da, Ryosuke Shibasaki, and Taisei Sato. 2021. “Seasonal variations of park visitor volume and park service area in Tokyo: A mixed-method approach combining big data and field observations.” Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 58, March, Pp. 126973. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Urban green and open space are important components of achieving the goal of planning sustainable cities, by offering health benefits to urban dwellers and providing socio-economic and environmental benefits to society. Recent literature studied the usage of urban parks, however, few has addressed seasonal fluctuations of park visitor volume, let alone seasonal variations of home-park travel distances and park service areas. This paper not only empirically shows the seasonal variations of park visits but also examines links between the park visit patterns and spatial characteristics of the case parks. Applying spatial analysis methods to location data of over 1 million anonymous mobile phone samples collected from January to December 2011, we analyzed the seasonal variations in six medium-sized urban parks, of which size falls under the category of ‘district parks,’ in central Tokyo. We also conducted content analysis of a Japanese place review website to understand visitor perceptions of the case parks. On the other hand, park spatial characteristics data were collected and summarized through various ways including field observation and satellite image analysis. The results show that (1) while notable seasonal variations of park visitor volume and park service area existed in all case parks, the degree of variation also differed from park to park; (2) spatial characteristics of parks were closely interlinked to seasonal cultural events, to visitor perceptions, and consequently to seasonal fluctuations of the park visit patterns. Lessons learned from the policy perspective include highly diverse user groups visit these medium-sized urban parks than what the typical guidelines assume, and seasonal patterns of their visits considerably vary from park to park, interacting with spatial characteristics of the parks. Hence, the urban park planning process should consider specific and detailed characteristics of parks and allocate resources to respond to dynamic park visit patterns beyond generic guidelines.
Yingying Lyu, Ann Forsyth, and Steven Worthington. 2021. “Built environment and self-rated health: comparing young, middle-aged, and older people in Chengdu, China.” Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 144, 3, Pp. 229-246. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Objectives: This paper explores how the building-scale built environment is associated with self-rated health, examining differences in this association among younger, middle-aged, and older age groups. Features examined included building type, building condition, and sidewalk presence in front of dwellings.
Background: Understanding how the relationships between built environments and health vary across age groups helps to build a healthy environment for all. However, most studies have concentrated on the neighborhood or indoor environment, rather than whole buildings, and few have compared age groups.
Methods: This study analyzed survey data from 1,019 adults living in 40 neighborhoods in Chengdu, China, recruited through a clustered random sampling approach. It used a Bayesian logistic mixed effects model with interaction terms between age group indicators and other variables.
Results: Significant differences exist in the relationships of self-rated health with some environmental and other indicators among age groups. For older people, living in multi-floor buildings, having a household smoker, and undertaking fewer hours of weekly exercise were associated with lower odds of reporting good, very good, or excellent health. These relationships were not identified among middle-aged and younger people. More education was associated with higher odds of reporting better health among older and middle-aged groups.
Conclusions: Older people experience more health-related challenges compared to middle-aged and younger people. However, among the examined built environmental factors, building type was the only significant factor related to self-rated health among older people. To promote health among older people, this study recommends adding elevators in the multi-floor buildings.

 

Haikun Wang, Xiaojing He, Xinyu Liang, Ernani F. Choma, Yifan Liu, Li Shan, Haotian Zheng, Shaojun Zhang, Chris Nielsen, Shuxiao Wang, Ye Wu, and John Evans. 2020. “Health benefits of on-road transportation pollution control programs in China.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117, 41, Pp. 25370-25377. Publisher's VersionAbstract
China started to implement comprehensive measures to mitigate traffic pollution at the end of 1990s, but the comprehensive effects, especially on ambient air quality and public health, have not yet been systematically evaluated. In this study, we analyze the effects of vehicle emission control measures on ambient air pollution and associated deaths attributable to long-term exposures of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and O3 based on an integrated research framework that combines scenario analysis, air quality modeling, and population health risk assessment. We find that the total impact of these control measures was substantial. Vehicular emissions during 1998–2015 would have been 2–3 times as large as they actually were, had those measures not been implemented. The national population-weighted annual average concentrations of PM2.5 and O3 in 2015 would have been higher by 11.7 μg/m3 and 8.3 parts per billion, respectively, and the number of deaths attributable to 2015 air pollution would have been higher by 510 thousand (95% confidence interval: 360 thousand to 730 thousand) without these controls. Our analysis shows a concentration of mortality impacts in densely populated urban areas, motivating local policymakers to design stringent vehicle emission control policies. The results imply that vehicle emission control will require policy designs that are more multifaceted than traditional controls, primarily represented by the strict emission standards, with careful consideration of the challenges in coordinated mitigation of both PM2.5 and O3 in different regions, to sustain improvement in air quality and public health given continuing swift growth in China’s vehicle population.
Chenghe Guan and Ann Forsyth. 2020. “The influence of urban form and socio-demographics on active transport: a 40 neighborhoods study in Chengdu, China.” Journal of Transport and Land Use, 13, 1, Pp. 367–388. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In China a centralized planning culture has created similar neighborhoods across the country. Using a survey of 1,048 individuals conducted in 2016 in Chengdu—located in a carefully conceptualized typology of neighborhood forms—we analyzed the associations between individual and neighborhood characteristics and active or non-motorized transport behavior. Using several multiple logistic and multi-level models, we show how neighborhoods were categorized and the number of categories or neighborhood types affected the magnitude of the associations with active transport but not the direction. People taking non-work trips were more likely to use active compared with motorized modes in all neighborhood types. Neighborhood type was significant in models, but so were many other individual-level variables and infrastructural and locational features such as bike lanes and location near the river. Of the 3-D physical environment variables, floor area ratio (a proxy for density) was only significant in one model for non-work trips. Intersection density and dissimilarity (land use diversity) were only significant in a model for work trips. This study shows that to develop strong theories about the connections between active transport and environments, it is important to examine different physical and cultural contexts and perform sensitivity analyses. Research in different parts of China can help provide a more substantial base for evidence-informed policy-making. Planning and design recommendations related to active transport need to consider how neighborhoods, built environments, and personal characteristics interact in different kinds of urban environments.

Yingying Lyu. 2019. “Walking culture in China.” Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Thesis Type: D. Des dissertation..  This dissertation analyzes data from the Harvard-China Project's household survey in Chengdu, Sichuan.
Chenghe Guan, Sumeeta Srinivasan, Bo Zhang, Liangjun Da, Chris P. Nielsen, and Jialin Liu. 2020. “The influence of neighborhood types on active transport in China’s growing cities.” Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 80, 102273. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Rapid urban expansion in China has created both opportunities and challenges for promoting active transport in urban residential communities. Previous studies have shown that the urban form at the city scale has affected active transport in Chinese cities. However, there is less agreement about how the physical and social variations of neighborhood types should be addressed. This research investigates the four most representative neighborhood types found in Chinese cities: traditional mixed-use, slab block work-unit, gated community, and resettlement housing. Household travel diaries conducted in Chengdu in 2016 were analyzed using binary logistic regressions, supplemented by informal onsite interviews. The findings indicate significant variations in the use and accessibility of active transport in each neighborhood type for non-work trips. This suggests that each neighborhood type may need different strategies for promoting active transport: (1) the traditional mixed-use neighborhoods are in need of intensified urban retrofitting projects to reclaim public open space; (2) the work-unit could benefit from comprehensive plans rather than a patchwork of projects; (3) while opening up gated communities can improve porosity across neighborhoods and promote active transport, the more pressing issue may be their inability to keep up with the transportation needs of the residents; and (4) residents of resettlement housing should have better access to employment using transit and non-motorized modes.

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