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How To Retrofit The Suburbs to Increase Walking

Researchers look at the largely suburban South Bay area of Los Angeles to offer ways to retrofit auto-oriented suburbs for more pedestrian travel.
January 9, 2012, 10am PST | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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"Researchers have spilled much ink debating the feasibility of alternatives to car travel, but have focused less on how suburbs built for the car might be transformed to accommodate other modes. Seven years ago, communities in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County decided to focus on this question. They found that walking is the gateway mode for alternative transportation," write an impressive array of authors, including Marlon G. Boarnet, Kenneth Joh, Walter Siembab, William Fulton, and Mai Thi Nguyen.

"While traditional urban design elements such as inwardly focused street geometry may encourage walking, our results suggest that a more critical factor is the concentration of business activity in a compact commercial center. The tricky part is that the business concentration needed to encourage walking appears to be larger than most neighborhood residential populations can support. Given that, suburban regions should focus both on fostering pedestrian centers and on knitting those centers together with transportation networks, though such networks need not accommodate only cars. We suggest both a land use approach and a mobility approach, and coordination between the two."

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Published on Thursday, January 5, 2012 in Access
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