Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Rutgers' John Pucher and VT's Ralph Bueler do it yet agian

I've said it before but when John Pucher speaks, the bike/ped world listens. While his latest work with his protégé Ralph Buehler, now at Virginia Tech, is not revolutionary, it is none-the-less a comprehensive update of the comparative analysis work that Pucher (and now Beuhler) have become famous for. This latest paper titled "Walking and Cycling for Healthy Cities" is a feature article in the UK journal Built Environment. An e-copy of the journal issue can be found here and a free copy of a plain text version of the article from John Pucher's webpage can be found here.

The abstract of this article is as follows:
Walking and cycling are the healthiest ways to get around our cities, providing valuable physical activity for people on a daily basis. These forms of active transport also generate indirect public health benefits by reducing the use of automobiles, thus diminishing air, water, and noise pollution and the overall level of traffic danger. This paper provides a broad overview of the role walking and cycling can play in making our cities healthier. First, we summarize the scientific evidence of the health benefits of walking and cycling. Second, we examine variations in walking and cycling levels in Europe, North America, and Australia. Third, we consider the crucial issue of traffic safety. Finally, we describe a range of government policies needed to encourage more walking and cycling: safe and convenient infrastructure such as sidewalks, crosswalks, bike paths and lanes, and intersection crossings; traffic calming of residential neighbourhoods; integration with public transport; land-use policies that foster compact, mixed-use developments; people-friendly urban design; improved traffic education; strict enforcement of traffic regulations; and reductions in motor vehicle speed limits.
Essentially, much of their work looks to compare the difference countries make in investments in walking, biking, transit, education and polices, and then find corresponding correlations in walking, biking and transit use rates, obesity rates, crash statistics, etc.. Their work in making the argument for investments in walking and biking (and transit and good urban form) is quite compelling.

An example of Pucher's and Buehler's comparative analysis work from a previous publication. Not surprisingly the USA always has the lowest rates of walking and cycling while being the fattest and most dangerous to walk and bike, amongst many other dubious distinctions.

Previous WalkBikeJersey articles on New Jersey's and Rutgers' own John Pucher can be found here and here.

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