People trying to plan to increase active transportation face problems with data. It isn’t clear how much active transportation is occurring so it is difficult to tell if it is increasing or decreasing. Recently I was involved with Kevin Krizek and Charlier Associates in creating a set of recommendations for measuring walking and cycling in Colorado. The report recommends eight indicators or “A
The report and a link to a webinar on the project are available at LiveWell Colorado(scroll to the bottom). You can reach the report directly at Recommendations for Measuring Active Transportation.
With growing interest in active transport practitioners and researchers have created a large number of tools to measure active transport behavior and environments. The following web sites provide lists or databases of such tools. If you want to measure AT, such sites can be a good place to start. Thye have been sponsored by such groups as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Cancer Institite, and the Federal Highway Administration:
- Active Living Research Tools and Measures: A compilation of community audit, park audit, survey, tracking, and related tools for measuring physical activity environments and behaviors.
- National Collaborative for Childhood Obesity Research:(NCCOR) Measures Registry: A database of measurement tools including many related to measuring physical activity behavior and the built environment; oriented toward research applications: http://tools.nccor.org/measures/
- Standardized Questionnaires of Walking and Bicycling Database: A database with approximately 100 tools focused on physical activity: http://appliedresearch.cancer.gov/tools/paq/
- Toole Design Group: 29 case studies of measuring walking and cycling: http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/pdf/casestudies/PBIC_Data_Collection_Case_Studies.pdf
|Pedestrians in suburban Paris. Photo: Ann Forsyth|
Design for Health’s photo collection on flickr has been expanding recently. Check out the photos through the tag cloud at http://www.flickr.com/photos/designforhealth/tags/.
|This is a picture of the image cloud–go to the URL above to find the actual clickable tags.|
|Plan available directly from the
City of Bloomington
Whatever the name it’s great to have these examples featured in multiple places.
Active living, the idea that it’s good to build exercise into daily life, has been big news in planning for a while but I still get questions about how to incorporate active living into plans. A decade ago, when it was a fairly new idea, there was the hope that if we built places where people were more prone to do activities like travel walking, that they’d keep exercising as well, increase their total activity, and reduce weight. It turns out to be a bit more complicated than this as I noted in my blog on high density and overweight adolescents in China. Research is quite mixed in its findings—there’s a lot of variation in how people respond to environments. Programs, policies, prices, education, and attitudes all shape how people use environments. But as a bottom line it is useful to provide options for people to be active in different ways so that when they want to do so they can.
|Mexico City Cycle Day, 2011. Photo: Ann Forsyth|
- Active Living by Design has been around since 2001 and has a useful web site. The group has worked with a number of cities and countied and provides case studies linked to an onsite map: http://www.activelivingbydesign.org/communities.
- The APA has a webinar with some practice examples: http://www.planning.org/nationalcenters/health/education/webinars/activecommunity.htm
- Design for Health also highlights some alternative transportation plans including ones by Bloomongton and St. Louis Park. Some of the questions in the DFH Comprehensive Plan Review checklists also target active living—noted in a column: http://www.designforhealth.net/resources/checklists.html
Recently I highlighted work of the National Collaborative for Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR). a group spearheaded by the National Institute of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. They have now released a new tool, or rather a registry of measures related to diet and physical activity: http://tools.nccor.org/measures/. I was part of the team on this project. My role was cataloging some of the physical activity measures, a mix of “questionnaires, instruments, diaries, logs, electronic devices, direct observations of people or environments, protocols, and analytic techniques.” Overall there are over 700 measures.
|Example of Straight Line and Network
Buffers Created Using GI
I’ve recently been involved creating a new survey for measuring transportation behavior, particularly walking and cycling. The Pedestrian and Bicycling Survey (PABS) is a mail out/mail back survey designed to be an inexpensive means for local governments to learn about nonmotorized transportation use in their communities.
An important component of the design of the PABS was creating a probabilistic sampling approach that would be relatively straightforward to administer and, if desired, could be carried out in house (within municipal agencies). While other sampling approaches—such as snowball sampling across the internet—can achieve a large number of responses, the probability of any person being asked to take the survey is not known making it a challenge to generalize from the sample to the wider population.
|Pedestrians in suburban Hong Kong|
The National Collaborative for Childhood Obesity Research is a group spearheaded by the National Institute of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Catalog of Surveillance Systems is a new product, also sponsored by the USDA. The catalog provides a searchable database of ongoing monitoring systems related to health. It includes both public systems such as the Census of Agriculture and National Vital Statistics System and private ones such as the Nielsen Homescan and InfoUSA.com. In all, 77 systems are represented.