Scholarly article on topic 'Walking for Sustainable Living'

Walking for Sustainable Living Academic research paper on "Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries"

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Abstract of research paper on Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, author of scientific article — Ebru Cubukcu

Abstract There is an obvious but less stated link between walkability and sustainability. This study aims to highlight this link. Walkable communities help to cut greenhouse gas and other emissions by requiring less driving, improve residents’ health by providing more opportunities for exercise, reduce crime by facilitating social interaction, support local economy by encouraging shopping in the neighborhood. Statistical data shows an increase in obesity and overweight rates and a decrease in walking rates throughout the world and in Asian countries. This study identifies the physical environmental parameters that relates to active living and encourage walking. Such research has often been conducted in developed countries. More research is on call for Asian cities.

Academic research paper on topic "Walking for Sustainable Living"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 85 (2013) 33 - 42

AcE-Bs 2013 Hanoi ASEAN Conference on Environment-Behaviour Studies Hanoi Architectural University, Hanoi, Vietnam, 19-22 March 2013 "Cultural Sustainability in the Built and Natural Environment"

Walking for Sustainable Living

Ebru Cubukcu*

_Assoc. Prof. Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey, 35160_

Abstract

There is an obvious but less stated link between walkability and sustainability. This study aims to highlight this link. Walkable communities help to cut greenhouse gas and other emissions by requiring l ess driving, improve residents' health by providing more opportunities for exercise, reduce crime by facilitating social interaction, support local economy by encouraging shopping in the neighborhood. Statistical data shows an increase in obesity and overweight rates and a decrease in walking rates throughout the world and in Asian countries. This study identifies the physical environmental parameters that relates to active living and encourage walking. Such research has often been conducted in developed countries. More research is on call for Asian cities.

© 2013TheAuthors. PublishedbyElsevierLtd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia

Keywords: Walkability; walkable communities; active living

1. Sustainable living: What is it and how it has changed?

"Sustainable" is a frequently used adjective that could be put in front of voluminous number of nouns such as sustainable development, sustainable growth, sustainable economic growth, sustainable jobs, sustainable business, sustainable tourism, sustainable information technology, sustainable energy, sustainable agriculture, sustainable food, sustainable yield, sustainable product, sustainable material, sustainable production, sustainable manufacturing, sustainable product design, sustainable engineering, sustainable construction, sustainable roofing, sustainable building, sustainable house, sustainable office, sustainable school, sustainable transport, sustainable real estate, sustainable architecture, sustainable landscape design, sustainable urban planning and design, sustainable zoning, sustainable city, sustainable

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +0-000-000-0000 ; fax: +0-000-000-0000 . E-mail address: ebru.cubukcu@deu.edu.tr.

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.08.335

village, sustainable urban, sustainable society, sustainable community. Although many of these word phrases are interconnected and overlapping, the extent of this list highlights the popularity (and importance) of the concept "sustainable living", which is also related to the many of the above word phrases.

Discussions on sustainability have been revolving around ozone layer deplation, air and water pollution, contaminated land, biodiversity, habitat protection, limits of growth (limits of natural, social and built systems), ecological footprint, alternative methods of energy consumption, recycling, unemployment, poverty and fair distribution of income and revenue. Debates on those issues have been initiated and maintained by visual and written media as well as by community members, civic leaders, policymakers, local government officials, economists, developers, planners, architects, landscape architects and environmental psychologists and researchers from various disciplines. Note however, among those issues, "sustainable living" has received less attention.

Sustainable living is defined as "lifestyle that aims to reduce the use of natural resources". Use of natural resources could be reduced in two ways; (1) by developing new technologies such as green technologies or renewable energy or (2) by adopting a life style that attempts to conserve and leave natural resources for future generations. Majority focused on the former, but the latter is far more challenging. Although habits hardly change in the short run, such changes are gradual (and we barely notice the difference) and inevitable in the long run. For example, are we living like our grandparents?

Considering the modern life style in developed countries, the term "sustainable living" is an oxymoron - as modern lifestyle of humans in urban areas causes environmental deterioration. Modern urban life in developed countries promote heavy use of fosil fuels by forcing people to commute by car to work, shop and recreation areas. However, until recently (the mid 20th century), cities in developed countries were walkable as they promoted compact development, mix of land uses, higher population densities, closer buildings and smaller lot sizes. Opportunities for recreation, shopping and employment (in addition to housing) were all be within neighbourhoods. However with industrilazation, technological change and favorable government policies for the use of automobiles, people tend to leave the life in the city center and invade more and more land at the city periphery. Zoning ordinances in developed countries have encouraged the separation of housing areas from commercial and recreational areas. With this environmental transformation, people tend prefer to live in places far from where they worked, shopped and frequently spend their recreational time. Such a life style brings automobile dependency (and heavy use of fosil fuels). According to World Bank data set, number of motor vehicles per 1000 people is in an increasing trend in every region and the situation is much worse when developing countries in each region is considered (as the developed ones may already reached its limits) (Table 1).

Note, problems of early neighborhoods were identified as substandard housing, lack of open space, crime, widespread illness due to the overcrowding and unsanitary conditions (Glanz , Nam, Tang, 2012). However, pushing housing outward and encouraging automobile dependency in the developed countries brings a new problem "overweight and obesity". As developing countries tend to walk in developed countries' shoes they are about to face a similar problem. Put it differently, as Wells, Ashdown, Davies (2007) highlighted our environment it shaping us and making us fatter. This statement is valid, no matter where one lives; in underdeveloped, developing and developed areas of the world. Thus, this paper aims to discuss (1) the problem of overweight and obesity and the importance of promoting walkable communities to fight with overweight and obesity , (2) the relation of walkable communities and sustainability, (3) physical environmental parameters related to walkability of neighborhoods

Ebru Cubukcu / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 85 (2013) 33 - 42 Table 1. Change in number of motorvehicles per 100 people by region

Number of Motor vehicles (per 1,000 people) % Difference

Region_2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2004-2008

East Asia & Pacific (all income levels) 84 84 88 92 106 99 114 120 15,12%

East Asia & Pacific (developing only) 19 27 35 38 55 44 55 64 38,62%

Europe & Central Asia (all income levels) 356 385 397 399 415 418 452 14,37%

Europe & Central Asia (developing only) 169 178 185 196 215 225 21,11%

Latin America & Caribbean (all income levels) 151 157 168 180 186 18,71%

Latin America & Caribbean (developing only) 147 153 164 176 182 19,29%

Middle East & North Africa (all income levels) NA

Middle East & North Africa (developing only) 87 NA

Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels) 28 NA

Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only) 28 NA

World 147 155 165 194 172 175 14,45%

Motor vehicles include cars, buses, and freight vehicles but do not include two-wheelers. Population refers to midyear population in the year for which data are available. Source: International Road Federation, World Road Statistics and data fi les. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IS.VEH.NVEH.P3 (last access 20.02.2013)_

2. Obesity and overweight: A global or national problem?

A growing body of literature suggests that obesity and overweight cause serious health problems and have adverse effects on national economy (WHO, 2011; US Department of Health and Human Services, 2000; Republic of Turkey Ministry of Health Basic Health Services Directorate, 2009; 2010). According to World Health Organization Report in 2012, about 1.4 billion adults were overweighed and about 500 million were obese (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/; last accessed 21.02.2013). Put it differently, more than one in ten of the world's adult population was obese. Considering children (under the age of five), more than 40 million were overweight in 2010 and about 35 million were living in developing countries. This statistics indicate that obesity will no longer be referred as a high-income country problem. Obesity is (or will be) a burden for low- and middle-income countries as well. The World Health Organization has been publishing reports to show that "obesity have been escalating rapidly" and "penetrating to the poorest nations in the world". Figure 1 shows the current situation of obesity and overweight by country.

Physical inactivity appears to be the fundamental reason of obesity and overweight. World Health Organization announced that physical activity among population needs to be encouraged to prevent obesity and overweight. Voluminous number of campaigns (Anti-Obesity Campaigns) have been initiated by global organizations (such as World Health Organization), national governmental institutions (such as Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Health) and many other independent and self declared organizations (such as "Campaign to End Obesity", which was initiated by leaders from industry, academia and public health with policymakers and their advisors to provide information and guidance for decision-makers to make policy changes to reverse obesity statistics in US. For more information: http://www.obesitycampaign.org/obesity_about_us.asp, last accessed on 22.02.2013) to decrease physical inactivity prevalence in order to prevent overweight and obesity. Such campaigns require an

interdisciplinary approach. Obviously, city planners and urban designers could contribute to such campaigns by designing healthy living environments.

General knowledge suggests that proper urban design approaches can promote walking and active living and scientific knowledge is necessary to explain how urban design could promote walking and active living. However, such scientific knowledge has been usually produced by the countries of the developed world. Why researchers in developing countries show less interest in improving such scientific knowledge? Do they believe that walking and active living is not a problem in developing countries ( at least for now)? If the trends will continue like this, lack of walking and active living will be a burden for all.

Fig. 1. Obesity rates by country Source: World Health Organization (2011)

As Devlin (2011) highlighted:

"The Sidewalk Lives in Hanoi, For Now... In Hanoi, anything you can imagine happens on the sidewalk. All aspects of eating are visible there: they sell food staples including fruit, nuts, vegetables, herbs, spices, rice... On the sidewalk people prepare and serve food, drink tea, and wash dishes. People eat breakfast, lunch, and diner... Adults are engaged in Chinese chess... Street vendors sell everything, from socks and feather dusters to decorations... Many families live above stores... and the cycle of life

plays out on the street. Children play, wedding photos are taken, and the funerals of elders are acknowledged through extended family gatherings in tents. Hair is cut, tin is welded into trunks, garments are sewn, tires are sold, motors are refurbished, and signs are made. Literally and figuratively, the fabric of life happens on the street.

But the urban core is undergoing dramatic change, as are the areas surrounding the center. What will Hanoi look like in 10 years?... my guess is that the life on the sidewalk will become increasingly less lively... " (Devlin, 2011; http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-americans-build-and-why/201101/the-sidewalk-lives-in-hanoi-now).

Devlin's observations for Hanoi are quite valid for Turkish cities. Unfortunately, her 10 year projections for the future of Hanoi sidewalks, has already occurred in many Turkish cities. Do other Asian cities experience a similar transformation?

According to a comprehensive study on walkability and pedestrian facilities in Asian Cities (Leather, Fabian, Gota, Mejia, 2011);

"Asian cities traditionally rely on walking, cycling and public transport for daily travel and many cities still have relatively low motorization levels despite the current surge in personal vehicle ownership... the mode share of walking is (still) significant ranging from 40% in Pondicherry, India to as high as 63% in Chonqing, PRC. While the walking mode share is still high, it is declining across Asian cities" (pages 2-3)

Leather, Fabian, Gota and Mejia (2011) reported the walking mode share changes in some Asian cities as follows (Table 2) and the findings are striking.

Table 2. Walking mode share declines in Asian cities

City Year Before (%) Year After (%) (%) Mode with Greatest Gain (Motorized)

Bangalore 1984 44.00 2007 8.33 Two-wheeler and car

Changzhou 1986 38.24 2006 21.54 Two-wheeler and car

Chennai 2002 47.00 2008 22.00 Two-wheeler

Delhi 2002 39.00 2008 21.00 Two-wheeler and car

Xi'an 2002 22.94 2006 15.78 Bus

Nanchang 2001 44.99 2005 39.11 Car

Shanghai 1986 38.00 2004 10.40 Two-wheeler and bus

Source: Leather, Fabian, Gota and Mejia (2011)

3. Walkable communities are sustainable communities, why?

Wikipedia defines walkability as "an important concept in sustainable design". Similarly, according to the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute" walkable communities are the only template that can lead to sustainability".

From another perspective, the sustainability of a place depends on various factors, including safety, accessibility. Given that, walking plays a fundamental role in the sustainability of a place. Accessible places are walkable, and when people walk they know their neighbors and they can easily identify strangers in the neighborhood. In other words walking helps improve social surveillance.

Walkable communities are designed for people (not for cars), retain a sense of history and place (rather than space), connects people to destinations and nature, honors social and environmental diversity; thus they are livable and improves quality of life for all citizens. They help to improve resource responsibility, safety, and social interaction. Increased walkability leads to more attractive and functional communities and helps improve individual and community health. In walkable communities people walk to important destinations such as grocery srores and public public transportation stops and this in return helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

On the contrary to the organic bond between sustainability and walkability, a few organizations focusing on sustainability focuses on walkability. For example Sustainable Cities Institute enriches sustainability debate via discussions on walkable neighborhoods. According to Sustainable Cities Institute walkable neighborhoods helps to (1) cut greenhouse gas and other emissions by requiring less driving, (2) improve residents' health by providing more opportunities for exercise, (3) reduce crime by facilitating social interaction among residents, (4) support local economy by encouraging residents to shop in nearby areas

(http://www.sustainablecitiesinstitute.org/view/page.basic/class/feature.class/Lesson_Sidewalks_Walkabi lity_Overview_SF). Similarly, the Urban Initiative and the Sustainability Initiative of UMass Dartmouth organized a workshop titled "Creating Walkable Communities" for "Sustainable cities" event in 2012 (http://sustainabilityalmanac.org/ai1ec_event/creating-walkable-communities/?instance_id= last accessed, 23.02.2013). However, not much attention has been paid to improve walkability to improve sustainability. For example Faure (2010) correctly addressed that

" Building ecological neighbourhood now seems fashionable..., but no body knows exactly any more which objectives are to be reached. ... Some of these neighbourhoods are no longer walkable as should be expected and can hardly be called sustainable "

Thus it is necessary to discuss what makes a neighbourhood walkable, as well as what makes it sustainable.

4. What makes a neighbourhood walkable?

A review of literature on the physical environmental parameters related to active living shows that such research is on its infancy stage. Various parameters have been highlighted in developed countries. The parameters discussed could be classified in 7 groups:

• land use,

• traffic safety,

• crime safety,

• walking and cycling comfort,

• accessibility,

• environmental aesthetics and upkeep,

• others (e.g. social relations within the neighborhood)

Various measures have been developed to measure each parameter. Those parameters could be measured subjectively (evaluations by residents) or objectively (evaluations by experts at the exact locations or calculations via geographic information systems). Table 3 shows the subjective and objective measures.

Table 3. A literature review on subjective (evaluations by residents) and objective measures (evaluations by experts or calculations via geographic information systems) of physical environmental factors influencing active living

Parameter Objective Measures Subjective Measures

Density Baran et al.. (2009), Larco et al. (2012), Grafova (2008), Roemmich et al. (2006), Borst et al. (2008), Craig et al. (2002) Saelens et al. (2003)

Diversity Hoehnet et al. (2005), Grafova (2008), Borst et al. (2008), Craig et al. (2002), Schwartz et al. (2011), Leung et al. (2011), Saelens et al. (2012) Brown et al. (2007), Zook et al. (2011), Wells et al. (2007)

Commercial Area (presence and density) Alfonzo (2005), Larco et al. (2012), Borst et al. (2008), Brown et al. (2007) Zook et al. (2011), Wells et al. (2007) Alfonzo (2005), Badland et al. (2008)

Recreational areas (presence and density) Hoehner et al. (2005), Baran et al. (2009), Roemmich et al. (2006), Borst et al. (2008), Floyd et al. (2002), Sschwartz et al. (2011), Powell et al. (2007), Sugiyama et al. (2010), Nelson et al. (2006)

Land use Physical Features ( e.g. minimum, maximum or average building set back distance, plot size building age etc.along a route or presence or the density of front porches, empty buildings, high and low quality buildings along a route) Alfonzo (2005), Trang et al. (2012), Grafova (2008), Borst et al. (2008), Schwartz et al. (2011), Nelson et al. (2006), Ewing et al. (2006), Berrigan & Troiano (2002)

Density and speed (eg. density of low speed streets, low / high traffic volume streets) Alfonzo (2005), Borst et al. (2008), Nelson et al. (2006) Saelens et al. (2003), Badland et al. (2008), Humpel et al. (2004), Rodriguez et al. (2008)

Traffic Safety Traffic Calming Devices (presence and density of various traffic calming devices such as bumpers, traffic island, and lights) Alfonzo (2005), Baran et al. (2009), Larco et al. (2012), Roemmich et al. (2006), Borst et al. (2008), Craig et al. (2002), Schwartz et al. (2011), Nelson et al. (2006) Saelens et al. (2003), Brown et al. (2007), Alfonzo (2005), Humpel et al. (2004), Rodriguez et al. (2008), Hoehner et al. (2005), Trang et al. (2012)

Crime Safety Alfonzo (2005), Grafova (2008), Borst et al. (2008), Craig et al. (2002), Nelson et al. (2006) Saelens et al. (2003), Brown et al. (2007), Alfonzo (2005), Hoehner et al. (2005), Baran et al. (2009)

tr orf mf o C g ni cl y C Sidewalks / walking and cycling paths (presence or percentage of high quality side walks) Alfonzo (2005), Rodriguez et al. (2008), Hoehner et al. (2005), Borst et al. (2008), Floyd et al. (2002), Nelson et al. (2006) Saelens et al. (2003), Alfonzo (2005), Badland et al. (2008), Humpel et al. (2004), Rodriguez et al. (2008), Hoehner et al. (2005), Trang et al. (2012), Troped et al. (2011)

d and g ni £ la £ Comfort elements (presence or percentage of comfort elements such as water fountain) Alfonzo (2005), Hoehner et al. (2005), Borst et al. (2008) Brown et al. (2007), Alfonzo (2005)

Barriers (presence or percentage of walking barriers, such as trash cans parked cars, high slope ramps or stairs) Borst et al. (2008), Craig et al.. (2002) Brown et al. (2007)

Connectivity and interaction of streets Alfonzo (2005), Grafova (2008), Brown et al. (2007)9, Baran et al. (2008) Saelens et al. (2003), Alfonzo (2005)

Nonresidential areas (network distance between commercial and residential areas) Trang et al. (2012), Larco et al. (2012) Saelens et al. (2003), Alfonzo (2005), Humpel et al. (2004), Rodriguez et al. (2008), Hoehner et al. (2005), Troped et al. (2011), Larco et al. (2012), Terzona & Morckel (2011)

Recreational areas (network distance between recreational and residential areas) Schwartz et al. (2011), Brown et al. (2007)9, Witten et al. (2008) Humpel et al. (2004), Hoehner et al. (2005), Troped et al. (2011), Hannes et al. (2009)

Public Transportation (density of bustops or network distance between public transportation stops and residential areas) Rodriguez et al. (2008), Hoehner et al. (2005), Borst et al. (2008), Craig et al. (2002), Brown & Werner (2009), Fuller et al. (2011) Humpel et al. (2004), Rodriguez et al. (2008), Hoehner et al. (2005)

Accessibility Alternative Routes (the maximum number of alternative routes between destinations) Nelson et al. (2006) Humpel et al. (2004), Rodriguez et al. (2008), Hoehner et al. (2005)

Buildings (presence or percentage of attractive buildings) Hoehner et al. (2005) Saelens et al. (2003), Alfonzo (2005)

Natural Elements (presence or percentage of trees or nice landscape) Hoehner et al. (2005), Baran et al. (2009), Borst et al. (2008) Saelens et al. (2003), Brown et al. (2007), Wells et al. (2007), Humpel et al. (2004), Hoehner et al. (2005)

sic te th ts e a Preference (the level of attractiveness, complexity, closeness etc on the street) Alfonzo (2005), Baran et al. (2009), Craig et al. (2002) Humpel et al. (2004)

ta tn e e n o ir n w Upkeep (presence or density of good looking front porches, graffiti, dirt, trash, broken windows on the street) Alfonzo (2005), Hoehner et al. (2005), Baran et al. (2009), Grafova (2008), Borst et al. (2008), Veitch et al. (2012) Alfonzo (2005), Humpel et al. (2004), Hoehner et al. (2005)

Note, the relative contribution of each parameter to active living has not been investigated. Also whether the parameters of developed countries are valid for developing countries or Asian cities has not been answered. More research on this area is on call.

5. Conclusion

Walkable communities and active living are quite related to the issue of sustainable living. With the change of physical environment, modern urban life have changed in developed countries. People tend to

use motorized vehicles more in developed countries. The situation is about to change in Asian countries, which are traditionally rely on walking, cycling and public transport for daily travel.

A voluminous number of studies have been conducted in the western world to promote active living and improve walkability in cities. However, such research has been scarce in the eastern countries in general and Asian cities in particular. We need to observe the trend (decrease in walking mode share in Asian Countries as in all other countries) and prevent the problem before it becomes too big to be prevented. Such initiatives have been started such as measuring walk score of various Asian cities and conducting walkability surveys in Asian cities (Gota, Fabian, Mejia, Punte, unpublished paper). Yet, more needs to be done.

Moreover, there is a huge gap between research and practice. This gap has to be narrowed with collaboration between researchers and professionals. This can be achieved with professionals' support for more research on this issue and their willingness to apply the findings of such research.

Acknowledgements

This present study is supported by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey.

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