Walking frequency, cars, dogs, and the built environment.
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Walking frequency, cars, dogs, and the built environment.

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      This report explains ways to reduce car usage in order to meet climate targets and how to analyze these effects. Much of the analysis has focused on differences between more compact areas that are more walkable versus more extensive car-dependent areas. Given our interest in physical activity (to combat obesity) we are interested in overall walking similar to studies such as (Berrigan, Troiano 2002) which also evaluated all walking trips jointly. Several studies have previously assessed the relationship between dog ownership and walking in the broader context of the effects of pet ownership on human health. In spite of the variations in methods and results these studies draw the same conclusion that dog owners are more physically active (primarily through walking their dog) than non-owners ((Bauman et al. 2001, Cutt et al. 2007, Cutt et al. 2008a, Brown, Rhodes 2006, Ham, Epping 2006, Oka, Shibata 2009, Owen et al. 2007, Serpell 1991, Sirard et al. 2011). It has generally been acknowledged that residential self-selection explains a part of the observed walking behavior in more walkable neighborhoods; that is, individuals who prefer to walk (or do not like to drive) will choose to live in more walkable neighborhoods. Our results show that the level of household car ownership is important in the choice of whether individuals walk and that car ownership itself is partly determined by many of the walkability features that typically have an association with walking. The findings show that the most significant built environment variables are the ones related to network connectivity and these affect walking behavior both directly and indirectly through the influence on vehicle ownership. Most of the socio-economic factors are only associated with vehicle ownership (with the exception of age). These findings highlight the importance of policy that affects vehicle ownership decisions; more connected walkable networks seem to be a negative factor, but other variables that increase the cost and difficulty of vehicle ownership (such as how parking is provided) can be as promising as promoting pedestrian friendly environments.
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