Date of Award

10-2010

Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning

Department

City and Regional Planning

Advisor

Umut Toker

Abstract

Public health is an increasingly important issue addressed from both environmental and public health sectors for the future development of urban environments. From a planning perspective, one possible solution is to increase walkability throughout the cities. Many assessment methods are being developed and administered to evaluate the quality of existing urban environments to promote walkable cities/communities. The results from using these methods provide policymakers and stakeholders with valuable information regarding the existing physical conditions of the environment. Although several US cities started to develop and refocus plans toward pedestrian-oriented policies approaches, results from this particular study determined that the quality of pedestrian environments cannot solely be determined by using available assessment tools and recommend additional analytical methods used in conjunction with source data to provide a complete perspective to successfully increase the quality of life. The condition of the physical environment – high, average, and low quality – was important contributing factors to increase walkability, yet, it is equally important to understand and consider the needs, preferences and perceptions of end users when public officials are charged with the task of developing plan proposals for pedestrian neighborhoods. This study addresses these issues through a case study examining the quality of pedestrian environment and how people perceive those surroundings of downtown San Luis Obispo.