Ultimately researcher Reid Ewing, University of Utah professor of city and metropolitan planning and study co-author, says the study reinforces the argument that the construct of the community affects how people travel within it. The researchers make this argument after having compiled analysis on 200 built, urban environments and a number travel studies conducted since 1996. The meta-analysis the researchers applied allowed them to take numerous research studies and pull the common threads out to show correlations in the design of cities and the behavior of its residents.
They found above anything else residents’ location inside a metropolitan area is the biggest determining factor. Second would be street design—are the blocks in the city small, straight, pedestrian-friendly thorough fares? Are neighborhoods mixed with residential, retail and commercial uses?
Ewing hopes this will research will help settle some long standing academic debates about urban sprawl. “Hopefully this study helps quiet the debate over whether community design matters,” Ewing said in a recent U press release.