Designing Pandemic Resilient Cities: Exploring the Impacts of The Built Environment on Infection Risk Perception & Subjective Well-Being
Friday, December 2, 2022
12 PM ET – 1 PM ET
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities around the world explored ways to slowdown the spread of the disease while maintaining the physical and mental health of individuals. They redistributed the street space to promote physical activity and non-motorized travel while meeting the social distancing requirements. Although the statistics showed significant increases in walking and bicycling trips during the pandemic, we have limited knowledge about the associations between built environment characteristics, COVID-19 infection risk perception while traveling, and subjective well-being. This study assesses the impacts of the built environment on subjective well-being and infection risk perception while traveling during the pandemic. It uses data collected from the residents of Columbus, Ohio, through a multi-wave survey conducted at different time points during the COVID-19 outbreak. The findings show that those living in more compact, accessible, and walkable neighborhoods are less likely to perceive active travel and shared micro-mobility as risky in terms of COVID-19 infection. Our results also show that built environment characteristics have indirect effects on the subjective well-being of individuals. The findings of our study demonstrate that built environment interventions can help promote physical activity and support mental health of individuals at this critical time. Our study also indicates that designing compact neighborhoods will be a crucial element of pandemic resilient cities in the post-COVID-19 era.
Gulsah Akar is the Chair of the School of City and Regional Planning. Professor Akar conducts research on sustainable urban mobility. Her work led to various research projects and publications, from investigating the built environment and travel connections using state of the art data collection technologies, to measuring access and equity, demographic differences in travel outcomes, and adoption of new mobility technologies. Her research received grant support from various sponsors. Professor Akar co-authored over 35 peer-reviewed articles in top-tier journals. Akar joined Georgia Tech in 2021. Before joining Georgia Tech, she was a professor of City and Regional Planning at The Ohio State University (OSU). She served as a Research Program Lead at OSU’s Sustainability Institute, providing direction for research on Smart and Resilient Communities across the university from 2019 to 2021. She was the Editor of Journal of Planning Literature from 2015 to 2021. She served as the Transportation Track Co-Chair of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and currently acts on multiple Transportation Research Board Committees.