טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentMoran Mika
SubjectThe Relationship between the Built Environment and Active
Living
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor Professor Pnina Plaut
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

During the second half of the 20th century, urban planning in Western countries focused on automobile-oriented design, including low densities, low street connectivity, zoning and land-use segregation. At the same time period, modern lifestyle in western countries, consisting of high car-dependence and sedentary jobs, has led to a decrease in physical activity, which increased the risk to several chronic diseases. This research thought to examine the associations between detailed measures of the built environment with active living, including walking and biking for travel and/or leisure, among children and their parents. The theoretical framework to the research is provided by the socio-ecological model, according to which active living is related to several environmental, social, inter-personal and intra-personal factors.

This study employs a cross-sectional design, including an environmental sampling approach. 7 neighborhoods in the city of Rishon LeZion were selected to include: "traditional neighborhoods" (N=4), characterized by high density, land-use mix and grid street network, and "suburban neighborhoods" (N=3), characterized by low density, land-use segregation, and multiple cul-de-sac streets. Objective measures of the built environment were obtained through GIS analysis and included urban fabric measures (residential density, street connectivity, built coverage) and land use measures. Data regarding active living and psychosocial factors (i.e., social-community, perceived environment) was assessed through a survey among children (aged 10-12) (n=573) and their parents (n=424).

Urban fabric measures were found to have stronger influence on active living than did land use characteristics. Interestingly, urban fabric was significantly positively associated with walking and negatively associated with biking. After controlling for psychosocial and socio-demographic variables, urban fabric remained a strong and significant predictor of biking (among children), but was reduced in significance in predicting walking (among children and parents). In addition, several indirect associations between the built environment and active living were found, mediated by psychosocial variables.

The research findings highlight the differences between pedestrians and cyclists in terms of their environmental needs and hence raise the need to reconsider the concept of walkability, while drawing a clear distinction between walkability and bikability. The findings also support the socio-ecological model as a theoretical framework for research on the built environment and active living. On a practical level, these findings imply that along with urban planning practice, enhancing psycho-social factors may help promote active living.  This may be achieved through multi-strategy interventions, consisting of environmental changes accompanied by complementary interventions, such as community health promotion interventions.