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Front Public Health. 2016 Apr 18;4:71. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2016.00071. eCollection 2016.

Communities on the Move: Pedestrian-Oriented Zoning as a Facilitator of Adult Active Travel to Work in the United States.

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Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA; Division of Health Policy and Administration, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago , Chicago, IL , USA.



Communities across the United States have been reforming their zoning codes to create pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods with increased street connectivity, mixed use and higher density, open space, transportation infrastructure, and a traditional neighborhood structure. Zoning code reforms include new urbanist zoning such as the SmartCode, form-based codes, transects, transportation and pedestrian-oriented developments, and traditional neighborhood developments.


To examine the relationship of zoning code reforms and more active living--oriented zoning provisions with adult active travel to work via walking, biking, or by using public transit.


Zoning codes effective as of 2010 were compiled for 3,914 municipal-level jurisdictions located in 471 counties and 2 consolidated cities in 48 states and the District of Columbia, and that collectively covered 72.9% of the U.S. population. Zoning codes were evaluated for the presence of code reform zoning and nine pedestrian-oriented zoning provisions (1 = yes): sidewalks, crosswalks, bike-pedestrian connectivity, street connectivity, bike lanes, bike parking, bike-pedestrian trails/paths, mixed-use development, and other walkability/pedestrian orientation. A zoning scale reflected the number of provisions addressed (out of 10). Five continuous outcome measures were constructed using 2010-2014 American Community Survey municipal-level 5-year estimates to assess the percentage of workers: walking, biking, walking or biking, or taking public transit to work OR engaged in any active travel to work. Regression models controlled for municipal-level socioeconomic characteristics and a GIS-constructed walkability scale and were clustered on county with robust standard errors.


Adjusted models indicated that several pedestrian-oriented zoning provisions were statistically associated (p < 0.05 or lower) with increased rates of walking, biking, or engaging in any active travel (walking, biking, or any active travel) to work: code reform zoning, bike parking (street furniture), bike lanes, bike-pedestrian trails/paths, other walkability, mixed-use zoning, and a higher score on the zoning scale. Public transit use was associated with code reform zoning and a number of zoning measures in Southern jurisdictions but not in non-Southern jurisdictions.


As jurisdictions revisit their zoning and land use policies, they may want to evaluate the pedestrian-orientation of their zoning codes so that they can plan for pedestrian improvements that will help to encourage active travel to work.


active travel; built environment; land use; physical activity; policy; zoning

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