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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Evaluating the Performance of Pedestrian-Oriented Developments: Summary of Site Visits and Research Design Options


Pedestrian-oriented developments are those that include a mixture of land uses, shorter distances between likely origins and destinations, and de-sign improvements to the pedestrian environment. Though several such developments have been con-structed within California in the last twenty years and planners commonly promote them, there has been little post-occupancy evaluation of their performance in actually increasing pedestrian activity in order to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Between September 2009 and June 2010, funded by the California Energy Commission (BOA 246), the Center for Resource-Efficient Communities (CREC) undertook a preliminary study to determine how to best proceed with research that will help planners assess the potential of improvements to the pedestrian environment to increase walk trips and reduce auto-mobile trips. CREC identified a group of 21 pedes-trian-oriented developments across California and collected data about each site, both through site visits and sources such as the U.S. Census. The number of sites available for study and the large amount of data available on each site indicated promising trends to-ward both increasing build-out of pedestrian-friendly developments and increasing focus on understanding non-automobile travel. The sites studied varied widely in terms of scale, type, mix of land uses, pedestrian design features, and location within the greater met-ropolitan area, suggesting that alternative research designs will be more fruitful in determining which design factors most strongly contribute to pedestrian activity and trip substitution.

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