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The Importance of the “Local” in Walkability

Civil Engineering Department, Merrimack College, 315 Turnpike Street, North Andover, MA 01845, USA
Department of Health Management and Policy, University of New Hampshire, Hewitt Hall, 4 Library Way, Durham, NH 03824, USA
Civil Engineering, Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science Program, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New Hampshire, Gregg Hall, 33 Colovos Road, Durham, NH 03824, USA
Center for the Environment, Plymouth State University, 17 High Street, Plymouth, NH 03824, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Derek Clements-Croome
Buildings 2015, 5(4), 1187-1206;
Received: 16 June 2015 / Revised: 11 September 2015 / Accepted: 16 October 2015 / Published: 22 October 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impacts of the Building Environment on Health and Well-Being)
PDF [157 KB, uploaded 22 October 2015]


Transportation infrastructure and transportation behaviors consume significant natural resources and are costly to municipalities, states, and the federal government. Small cities, in particular, may find themselves with high costs. Although transportation has been extensively investigated, methods that may enable small cities to act are still lacking. To investigate the influence that neighborhood-level built environment characteristics have on adult personal transportation decisions within small cities, this study combined community-based research, a multi-level analysis of residents, and a case study approach in two (North-Eastern United States) New Hampshire cities, Portsmouth and Manchester. Neighborhood-level physical characteristics were determined using Geographic Information Systems and visual surveys. Resident-level characteristics and behaviors were determined by survey of adult residents. Data were supplemented with input from and collaboration with city representatives. The results showed significant relationships between self-reported destination walking and built environment characteristics in the neighborhoods studied. Furthermore, the results showed variability between neighborhoods, underscoring the importance of local factors and behaviors. The results suggested that small cities and their regional planning organizations can make changes to specific existing neighborhoods to remove barriers to walking and allow more residents to choose walking as a transportation mode, but the changes that are most effective vary by neighborhood. View Full-Text
Keywords: built environment; walkability; physical activity; multi-level analysis; small cities built environment; walkability; physical activity; multi-level analysis; small cities
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Carlson, C.; Aytur, S.; Gardner, K.; Rogers, S. The Importance of the “Local” in Walkability. Buildings 2015, 5, 1187-1206.

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