Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Walking, urban design, and health: Toward a cost-benefit analysis framework

Marlon G. Boarnet
University of California, Irvine
Michael Greenwald
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Tracy E. McMillan
University of Texas
Journal of Planning Education and Research
March 2008 vol. 27 no. 3 341-358


The authors examine the magnitude of health benefits from urban design characteristics that are associated with increased walking. Using geocoded travel diary data from Portland, Oregon, regression analyses give information on the magnitude and statistical significance of the link between urban design variables and two-day walking distances. From the coefficient point estimates, the authors link to the health literature to give information on how many persons would realize health benefits, in the form of reductions in mortality risk, from walking increases associated with urban design changes. Using a cost-benefit analysis framework, they give monetized estimates of the health benefits of various urban design changes. The article closes with suggestions about how the techniques developed can be applied to other cost-benefit analyses of the health benefits of planning projects that are intended to increase walking.

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