Encouraging walking and bicycling contribute to livability, environmental sustainability, and public health objectives; however, inadequate infrastructure and negative social environments for walking and bicycling exists in many communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013), barriers such as poorly maintained sidewalk and street infrastructure, higher rates of crime, and increased dangers from traffic may discourage some residents from engaging in walking and bicycling or make it difficult and unsafe for those that depend on such infrastructure. Safe walking and bicycling conditions are especially important for individuals accessing transit, and improving conditions of the first mile/last mile portion of the trip could encourage more commuters to use public transportation. It is important to understand residents’ perceptions of the walking and bicycling conditions near their homes to best develop strategies to increase walking, bicycling and utilization of public transportation, while also creating safer conditions for all users.
This project will utilize the previously validated Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale (NEWS) to examine the association of environmental attributes with walking, bicycling, and transit use intentions and behaviors of residents of several neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay area. The Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale (NEWS) assesses residents’ perception of neighborhood design features related to physical activity, including residential density, land use mix, street connectivity, infrastructure for walking/cycling, neighborhood aesthetics, traffic and crime safety, and neighborhood satisfaction (Frank, et al., 2010). Additionally, residents will be surveyed to assess current walking, bicycling, and transit use behavior, demographics, and TPB (attitudinal, normative, and control) beliefs.
These findings will be used to determine whether perceived environment characteristics associated with walking and bicycling vary among neighborhoods, which has important implications for future interventions to improve walking and bicycling conditions to access transit. The findings from this research will be beneficial to transit agencies, as well as to local bicyclist and pedestrian populations. The final product will be a guide for communities to determine which factors influence walking, biking, and transit access in their neighborhoods, including associated recommendations and strategies to influence change.