facultyupdateoct2016

October 2016: MURP Faculty Updates

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MURP faculty are busy serving the planning profession, the community and our students through their leadership and participation in publications, presentations and media stories.

Notable activities in October and early November 2016 include:

Carolyn McAndrews, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, alongside collaborators at the Medical College of Wisconsin, recently published two new papers about road safety and equity.

Linking Transportation and Population Health to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Transportation Injury: Implications for Practice and Policy addresses racial and ethnic disparities in pedestrian deaths and serious injuries. Dr. McAndrews and her collaborators argue that creating a combined transportation-population health framework is one way to quantify, and therefore prioritize, equity considerations in transportation safety decision-making. The research found that per trip, whites are equally safe as pedestrians and motor vehicle occupants, whereas other racial and ethnic groups for whom data was obtained were less safe when they walk. The abstract and full text of the research can be read here.

Dr. McAndrew’s second paper, How Do the Definitions of Urban and Rural Matter for Transportation Safety? Re-interpreting Transportation Fatalities as an Outcome of Regional Development Processes, examines road safety equity across the urban-rural continuum, asking whether the definitions of urban and rural matter for how we understand place-based transportation injury risk. This research provides a critical knowledge base for improving the safety of all travelers with several key findings, including that population density, rather than urban/rural, is a better road safety indicator, and that low-density settlements need more road safety attention, regardless of urban-rural status. The abstract and full text of the research can be read here.


Carrie Makarewicz, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, along with Jeremy Németh, associate professor of urban and regional planning, presented their paper Transport Access & Well-Being in Denver on a transportation equity panel at the 2016 Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) conference. Makarewicz and Németh sought to determine how transportation accessibility and affordability affects individual and household well-being by surveying 240 individuals in 2014 and 2015 who live in a range of neighborhood types throughout Denver. The impetus for the survey was simultaneous cuts in bus service and proposed public transit fare increases in the Denver region.

Respondents were asked about their household and background; their travel patterns, including where they took transit, and which modes they used, e.g. walk, bike, transit, drive; and seven subjective questions about their well-being, including their health, standard of living, personal relationships, future, sense of safety, community and life achievements.  The findings indicated an importance in the ability to walk and take transit for lower income households, regardless of where they live in Denver; however, many low-income households were less likely than higher income households to use three or more modes of transportation, possibly due to income and ability.

Further, total well-being was strongly associated with income and employment, but with variations among the seven surveyed aspects of well-being, such as people who used multiple modes of transportation–regardless of income–reporting a high standard of living, and those who ranked their standard of living lower residing in areas with less accessibility, and therefore, higher transportation costs. Unfortunately, the study did not find that those who reported walking and using transit to have better health. High ratings of one’s health was positively associated with living in a more suburban neighborhood, higher incomes and working, not with walking or modal use.

While this study was experimental, the findings correspond with other recent studies on the importance of transit accessibility and urban environments to some aspects of subjective well-being, in addition to raising important questions about how well the urban context supports individual health, even if it promotes more active travel.


Ken Schroeppel, assistant professor CTT of urban and regional planning, participated in a professional panel discussion on Wednesday, November 9th, The Future of Colorado: Major Implications of State, Regional and Local Decisions on Planning Issues. Other panelists included Doug Anderson, environmental planner for CH2M and David (DK) Kemp, senior transportation planner for City of Boulder.

Discussion topics included housing, transportation, socio-economics, and energy and the environment, with specific questions addressing issues such as:

  • What tactics or incentives can public officials employ to encourage the construction of more affordable housing and reduce development costs?  
  • How can the state alternatively address traffic congestion with less money dedicated to transportation improvements?
  • What capacity should planners contribute to the needs of small towns and suburbs from an economic standpoint?
  • How can planners use practices such as open space preservation and land acquisition to prevent further decimation of the natural environment and encourage sustainable forms of energy?

Jeremy Németh, associate professor of urban and regional planning, alongside Alessandro Rigolon, assistant professor at California State University, Northridge, recently published a new paper, Planning for Differentiated Solidarity. Németh also presented this research at the 2016 Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) conference.

The paper asks how solidarity might be achieved in the context of significant diversity, questioning whether there is a “third way” for planning for diversity, one that bridges the gap between segregation and integration, between differentiation and assimilation. Recent research shows that in the most racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, people tend to “hunker down,” and levels of trust and empathy are low compared to homogeneous neighborhoods. Research also shows that segregation reduces contact with other diverse persons, and makes it unnecessary for the privileged to concern themselves with social injustices.

Németh and Rigolon argue that these two constructs present a false dichotomy and instead seek out a middle ground that is a method of city building called “differentiated solidarity,” which affirms frequent, respectful and unmediated engagement but also celebrates group-based differentiation and clustering in ethnic enclaves. The research asks whether there actually exists certain places marked by conditions of differentiated solidarity, what they might look like, where they are located and how they function. Overall,Planning for Differentiated Solidarity takes the abstract notion of differentiated solidarity and explores its potential physical manifestations.

In their study, Németh and Rigolon look at five of the largest and most diverse metropolitan regions in the U.S. and identify 153 clusters wherein three or more groups of racially homogenous neighborhoods abut one another. They then examine in detail several exemplary cases within each cluster type to better understand how they function and whether they are characterized by higher levels of solidarity than their less diverse counterparts.