Movement-Attractors and Generic Neighbourhood Environment Traits (MAGNET): The Association between Urban Form and Physical Activity

Nicoleta Cutumisu
2011
Urban form is a contributor to physical inactivity, which is a problem around the world. The association between urban form and physical activity is not fully understood, in part because improved methodologies of assessing urban form are necessary. This thesis consists of four studies that examined the association between urban form and physical activity in Edmonton, Alberta, using Geographic Information Systems. The research goals of this thesis were: (1) to compare two objective methods of
more » ... ctive methods of assessing urban form walkability; (2) to examine the association between objective and subjective urban form measures and physical activity; and (3) to compare self-reported physical activity of individuals living in high and low walkability neighborhoods. Methods: Study 1 addressed Goal 1 and focused on objectively measuring urban form walkability based on public health and architectural (space syntax) measures. Study 2 addressed Goal 2 and focused on urban form association with self-reported physical activity. Study 3 addressed Goals 2 and 3 and focused on urban form association with self-reported walking. Study 4 addressed Goal 3 and involved an observational study of the pedestrian, cyclist, and vehicular movement in four neighbourhoods stratified by walkability and socio-economic status (SES). Results: Study 1 revealed agreement between public health and space syntax measures of assessing urban form. Study 2 revealed that only the objective Urban Form and Physical Activity in Edmonton iii environment was associated with physical activity. Study 3 revealed that only the perceived environment was associated with walking. Study 3 also revealed that walking as recommended was not different for individuals living in environments objectively assessed as higher versus lower in walkability. Study 4 revealed that observed pedestrian movement was higher in volume in neighbourhoods objectively assessed as higher in walkability. Cyclist movement was lower in volume in the neighbourhood classified as lower in walkability and in SES than in the other three neighbourhoods. Vehicular movement was no different in volume in the four neighbourhoods. Conclusion: Both objective and subjective urban form influence physical activity. A common Social Ecological Models -Space Syntax framework would enable a better understanding of urban form influences on physical activity. Urban Form and Physical Activity in Edmonton iv Acknowledgements I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. John C. Spence, for his constant support and guidance over the years. His knowledge, vision, creativity, and professionalism have inspired me and helped me grow as a researcher. I would also like to thank the members of my dissertation committee:
doi:10.7939/r3cn6z48b fatcat:rrffr5zph5cg3lhzmqbmomvpqe