A new urban planning code's impact on walking: the residential environments project

Am J Public Health. 2013 Jul;103(7):1219-28. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301230. Epub 2013 May 16.


Objectives: We examined whether people moving into a housing development designed according to a state government livable neighborhoods subdivision code engage in more walking than do people who move to other types of developments.

Methods: In a natural experiment of 1813 people building homes in 73 new housing developments in Perth, Western Australia, we surveyed participants before and then 12 and 36 months after moving. We measured self-reported walking using the Neighborhood Physical Activity Questionnaire and collected perceptions of the environment and self-selection factors. We calculated objective measures of the built environment using a Geographic Information System.

Results: After relocation, participants in livable versus conventional developments had greater street connectivity, residential density, land use mix, and access to destinations and more positive perceptions of their neighborhood (all P < .05). However, there were no significant differences in walking over time by type of development (P > .05).

Conclusions: Implementation of the Livable Neighborhoods Guidelines produced more supportive environments; however, the level of intervention was insufficient to encourage more walking. Evaluations of new urban planning policies need to incorporate longer term follow-up to allow time for new neighborhoods to develop.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Building Codes / standards*
  • Child
  • City Planning / standards*
  • Data Collection
  • Environment Design / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Residence Characteristics / classification*
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data
  • Self Report
  • State Government
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transportation / statistics & numerical data
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data*
  • Western Australia