Neighborhood Walkability and Safety Considerations in Neighborhood Choices
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There are few studies examining the interrelationships between objectively evaluated neighborhood quality and preferences for walkable neighborhoods, which are considered in actual residential location choices. Furthermore, little is known about how concordance and discordance between neighborhood quality and considerations affect walking behaviors and the satisfaction of residents. Using survey and objectively measured datasets from two recently completed research projects which were carried out in non-metropolitan communities (four urban and three rural towns) in Texas, Study 1 identified who considered walkability and safety when selecting a residence, and their environmental variations related to walkability and safety considerations by age groups and community settings. Results from binomial logistic regression models showed that non-White, pro-safety, utilitarian walkers, non-obesity, less education, long residential length, and a home near CBDs were personal predictors of the odds of walkability considerations, while non-Hispanic, pro-attractiveness, utilitarian walkers, short length of residence, and rural living were predictors of the odds of safety considerations. High perceived safety from traffic but low safety for walking were related to both neighborhood considerations. Walkability consideration resulted in choices of more neighborhood destinations, fewer single family residences, and industrial land uses. Safety consideration brought about selections of more multifamily residences and service destinations, and fewer recreational lands and food destinations. Study 2 examined walking behaviors and perceived neighborhood livability of those who lived in a condition called “neighborhood discordance”, the mismatch between the preferred versus actual neighborhood environments, and the interrelated links among neighborhood considerations, discordances, and neighborhood-level walkability and safety indices conceptualized and developed from the existing literature. Generalized structural equation models (GSEMs) with multilevel modeling approaches found that traffic and walking related perceived safety, objectively measured pedestrian infrastructures, street connectivity, and violent crimes were common environmental correlates of discordances. Both preference discordance and walkability discordance were associated with a limited level of walking for transportation. For safety, safety discordance was linked to a restricted level of perceived safety, but preference discordance was related to higher safety perceptions. A livability perception was a function of SES, preferences for walkability and safety, walkable neighborhood environments, walking for any purpose, and safety perception. This dissertation research presents significant contributions in understanding various housing demands for active lifestyles and the life satisfaction of different resident groups. A comprehensive examination of interrelationships among neighborhood choices and preferences, perceptions of neighborhood environments, and walking behaviors highlights the importance of positive attitudes and an adequate supply of walkable and safe neighborhoods.
Yoon, Jeong Jae (2017). Neighborhood Walkability and Safety Considerations in Neighborhood Choices. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from