2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard (Annotated Bibliography Thirteen)

Concluding Thoughts. 23. Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Aug. 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2016. <http://d2dtl5nnlpfr0r.cloudfront.net/tti.tamu.edu/documents/mobility-scorecard-2015.pdf>.

This is report done by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute that discusses traffic congestion, what causes it, and what can be done to reduce it. In the report traffic congestion is described as a kind of tax that wastes the time and money of people. The report points to a number of contributory causes such as poor public transportation and lack of alternatives to automobiles.

The Built Environment and Mental Health (Annotated Bibliography Twelve)

Evans, Gary. “The Built Environment and Mental Health.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Cornell University, 2003. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.

In his article titled The Built Environment and Mental Health, Gary W. Evans discusses the impact the built environment has on mental health. Things like light, the length of corridors, noise, crowding, or even the position of chairs in a psychiatric facility can impact the psychology and behavior of people. Lack of sunlight can affect concentration and may lead to seasonal affective disorder (a type of depression). If the corridors in a building are too long, then they may invoke helplessness in those who have to constantly walk down them. The noise from a busy street near a home may negatively impact the psychology of the children who live there. A person’s psychological well-being can also be negatively impacted by how crowded an area is. Finally, when chairs are arranged so that they’re facing each other, this promotes social interaction, which is taken advantage of by psychiatric facilities where isolation is seen as harmful for patients.

Obesity, Poverty, and The Built Environment (Annotated Bibliography Eleven)

Perdue, Wendy Collins. “Obesity, Poverty, and The Built Environment.” University of Richmond. University of Richmond, 2008. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.

In this scholarly article titled Obesity, Poverty, and The Built Environment Wendy Collins Perdue interacts with the idea that the built environment contributes to obesity, especially those found in poorer neighborhoods. One example the article mentions is poorer neighborhoods tend to have a greater number of fast-food restaurants and convenience stores instead of super-markets that sell healthier and more varied food. A second example is people living in poorer neighbors may be discouraged from walking or visiting a park due to crime or degraded infrastructure (e.g. sidewalks). That’s assuming there are any parks or recreational areas. Typically, it’s less likely a poorer area would have a place where people can play sports, picnic, hike, bike, etc. According to the article, the solution is to educate ourselves and others about how the built environment can influence health while working with experts and designers to slowly change the built environment into a more health-friendly environment.

Bicycle Commuting and The Built Environment (Annotated Bibliography Nine)

“Exploring the Effects of the Built Environment on Bicycle Commuting.”Exploring the Effects of the Built Environment on Bicycle Commuting. University of Minnesota, Sept. 2013. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.

This article discusses a survey conducted by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Department of Civil Engineering in which residents from three different areas in Minneapolis were asked if they bicycled and if so, then how frequently. The results of the survey found that 25 percent of the respondents commuted by bike and one-fifth of the bicyclers used their bikes to get to work four or five times a week. The survey also found that those who lived near bike lanes were more likely to use them; however, this did not necessarily mean these same people would use their bike to get to work. Instead, according to the survey, what influences whether or not one will commute to work with their bike is distance and parking. With respect to parking—if a person’s workplace has free nearby parking, then their chances of using a bike to commute to work goes down.

Reducing Car Trips in Atlanta (Annotated Bibliography Ten)

In this blog entry Darin Givens examines an interview with Jim Durrett of the Buckhead Community Improvement by the website Curbed Atlantic. In the entry Givens argues that unless the built environment in Atlanta is changed into something that is more bicycle and pedestrian friendly, then people will continue to rely on mostly cars, creating traffic. He also makes an interesting point about public transportation. He believes the reason why it seems the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is lackluster is because the design of the city is sprawling; in other words, everything is spread out, encouraging the use of cars and discouraging bicycling, walking, and public transportation. At the end of the blog entry Givens also touches upon telecommuting and how it isn’t an adequate solution because it doesn’t necessarily promote alternative transportation and smart growth.

Givens, Darin. “Atlurbanist.” Web log post. Reducing Car Trips in Atlanta The Quote in This… ATL Urbanist, May 2015. Web. 01 Apr. 2016

Living in a Digital Built Environment (Annotated Bibliography Number Eight)

“Living in a Digital Built Environment.” Digital_Built_Environment. ARUP, n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

This article published by the company ARUP gives a brief description of how technology is being used to shape the built environment to provide a more comfortable and healthy space. The author of the article describes sensors that can detect pollution or monitor temperature, among other variables, which would trigger other technology that would appropriately respond. For instance, the article describes rooms or entire buildings that would automatically react to the presence of people, adjusting light and temperature when necessary. The article also describes stadiums with moving seating and dynamic sound, automatically adjusting itself to provide the spectators with the optimal experience. The author also mentions sensors that can monitor traffic flow, disseminating the information to motorists so they can plan and act accordingly. Finally, the article discusses a technology that can represent 3D models of cities, recording and predicting the patterns of people and providing an analysis of how a particular built environment may affect them, in terms of travel and where they are spending their money.

The Built Environment and Its Relationship to the Public’s Health (Annotated Bibliography Number Seven)

Perdue, Wendy Collins, Lesley A. Stone, and Lawrence O. Gostin. “The Built Environment and Its Relationship to the Public’s Health: The Legal Framework.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. American Journal of Public Health, Sept. 2003. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

In this article titled The Built Environment and Its Relationship to the Public’s Health: The Legal Framework, written by Wendy Collins Perdue, JD, Lesley A. Stone, JD, and Lawrence O. Gostin, JD, LLD, there’s a discussion and some recommendations made in regard to the built environment, how it can affect health, and what one can do to influence how the built environment is. The paper gives some ways one can do this. Essentially, if one wants to become an effective advocate for a healthy built environment, then they should acquire evidence, get involved as early as possible during the building process, and be defender for the health of children and the downtrodden. According to the article, the latter is especially important because the health of the poor are more likely to be effected by the bad decisions of policy makers and builders than the affluent.

Smart Cities, Healthy Kids (Annotated Bibliography Six)

KidskanAdmin. “Smart Cities, Healthy Kids Looks at Built Environment and Kids.” YouTube. YouTube, 7 Sept. 2011. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.

This 4:35 video provides a sketch of a three-year long project that occurred in Saskatoon, Canada. The Smart Cities, Healthy Kids project investigated the impact of the built environment on children between the ages of 10 and 13. For instance, things like newer sidewalks, roads, the state of homes, playgrounds, and parks shaped the choices and physical activities of children, which in turn affected their health. The physical activity of the children was measured by a device that they wore around their waists called an accelerometer. Additionally, the researchers found differences between old grid-style neighborhoods and new curvilinear-style neighborhoods. Newer neighborhoods tended to be safer for crime and traffic while older neighbors typically had more destinations and activity areas.

I found this video very interesting and the study appears objective. More information about the study can be found at their website (http://smartcitieshealthykids.com/). I see this video (and study) as yet another indicator of the power of the built environment and why it’d be wise for us to use it to our advantage.

His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society (Annotated Bibliography Five)

Tick, Suzanne. “His & Hers.” Metropolis Magazine. Horace Havemeyer III, Mar. 2015. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.

In her article His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society Suzanne Tick argues that most architecture and interior décor is in accordance to Modernism; and Modernism is from the masculine perspective. Therefore, most architecture and interior décor is not accommodating to women and the transgendered. She contrasts this with what she believes we’re presently going through: the gender revolution! According to Tick, contemporary society is redefining what it means to be a man or a woman, and so architects should facilitate and promote this revolution by making their designs more universal or neutral.

While I do not agree with some of the content of the article it is nevertheless a different perspective, which I welcome. With respect to the article’s objectivity, I look at it as an opinion piece. However, the article does help me better understand how powerful the built environment is—and how it could be used to promote certain ideologies.

Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’ (Annotated Bibliography Four)

Bazelon, Emily. “Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Nov. 2015. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.

In the article Making Bathrooms More ‘Accomodating’ by Emily Bazelon, there are a number of arguments made in favor of unisex (i.e. all-gender) bathrooms. Bazelon argues that the root cause of sex-segregated bathrooms occurred in the 19th century when women began entering into previously male-dominated areas like factories and libraries. At the time, people believed women were prone to fainting and so they required special rooms they could rest in. The sex-segregated bathrooms were also created to address privacy and sanitation concerns. In contrast, the modern-day woman isn’t concerned by such matters. Another argument by Bazelon is that sex should no longer be determined by biology, but by how people feel and express themselves. This is because a person who is biologically female may feel she is male—or express that she is male–and because there are other sex-chromosome combinations besides XY and XX. The third main argument of this article has to do with accommodation and feelings; the entire article is about accommodation, but Bazelon provides examples of US schools already accommodating the transgendered by using their preferred names and pronouns, so the question she raises are why not go further and shouldn’t we make everyone feel welcome?

This article is interesting in the sense that it introduces the reader to new ideas, especially if the reader is conservative; however, I don’t consider The New York Times to be obejctive. Take for instance this article. A strong opposing argument is never offered (against unisex bathrooms or the idea of transgenderism), although Bazelon does bring up the Houston campaign against unisex bathrooms–which made use of the commonly perpetuated belief that all men are potential assailants. Interestingly enough, she never mentioned that the “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms” campaign was sexist against men. Instead, she quoted a self-proclaimed liberal woman who opined that this unisex bathroom movement was yet another example of women having to accommodate men, despite the fact that if the movement were successful, then women would be allowed to use the men’s room too.