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The Research Connection

Dr. Susan L. Handy's Presentation on "Neighborhood Design vs. Travel Behavior"

The Caltrans Division of Research and Innovation is hosting monthly videoconferences on various topics. The presentations are designed to bring researchers and practitioners together to exchange information and transfer knowledge.

Dr. Susan L. Handy
Dr. Susan L. Handy
Associate Professor
Dept. of Environmental Science and Policy
UC Davis

On June 29, 2006, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM (Brown Bag Lunch), Dr. Susan L. Handy presented "Neighborhood Design vs. Travel Behavior."

Dr. Handy is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California at Davis, where she teaches in the Environmental Policy and Planning major and in the Transportation Technology and Policy Program. Her research focuses on the relationships between transportation and land use, including the impact of land use on travel behavior and the impact of transportation investments on land development patterns. In addition, her work is directed towards strategies for enhancing accessibility and reducing automobile dependence, including land use policies and telecommunications services. She has recently been involved in efforts to understand the link between the built environment and physical activity; these efforts are driven by a concern over growing levels of obesity in the U.S. and worldwide. Dr. Handy recently served on the Institute of Medicine Committee on the Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth, and have given talks at several conferences in the last three years on these issues. She has served for a number of years on the Committee on Land Development and Transportation and the Committee on Telecommunications and Travel Behavior of the Transportation Research Board and am currently the Chair of the latter committee. She received her B.S.E. in Civil Engineering from Princeton University (1984), M.S. in Civil Engineering from Stanford University (1987), and Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley (1992).

Topic Description: Neighborhood Design Vs. Travel Behavior

Recent studies show significant connections between suburban sprawl and traffic congestion, air pollution, and obesity. The logic is simple: suburbs were designed for driving rather than walking, leading people to drive more and walk less, thereby contributing to increased traffic congestion and vehicle emissions, declining physical activity, and increasing waistlines. The solution as proposed is simple: redesign suburbs for walking rather than driving, so that people will walk more and drive less, traffic levels will decrease, and physical activity will increase. Problem solved. But is it? Dr. Handy will share results from a recent Caltrans-funded project that looks at the link between neighborhood design and travel behavior using data from a survey of residents of eight Northern California neighborhoods.

Informative Document