Kristen Day

Affiliated Faculty, NYU Wagner; Department Head and Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Kristen Day is an Affiliated faculty member in the Wagner School.  She is also Professor in the Department of Technology, Culture and Society and also the Associate Dean for Academic Administration at the Polytechnic School of Engineering, New York University. Her research and teaching examines issues of equity and well-being in the planning and design of urban environments for diverse populations. Her current research focuses on the development of walkable urban environments in Chinese cities. 

This course introduces students in urban planning and related fields, to the ways in which urban planning and urban design can help to improve community health. Although urban planning and public health are closely related in their history and their objectives, these fields have been historically taught and practiced independently with limited interaction. The course focuses on neighborhood scale planning issues that impact health, including transportation, land use, urban design, community development, and crime prevention. This class will involve discussions, lectures, guest speakers, readings, and a research report.

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2014

Abstract

Objective: We examined the connections (1) between the design of the built environment and walking, (2) between the design of the built environment and obesity, and (3) between walking and obesity and income in urban settings in China. 

Methods: Six neighborhoods with different built environment characteristics, located in the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou, were studied. Data on walking and other physical activity and obesity levels from 1070 residents were collected through a street intercept survey conducted in 2013. Built environment features of 527 street segments were documented using the Irvine–Minnesota Inventory-China (IMI-C) environmental audit. Data were analyzed using the State of Place™ Index. 

Results: Walking rates, household income and Body Mass Index (BMI) were related; neighborhoods with a higher State of Place™ Index were associated with higher rates of walking. 

Conclusion: This study began to establish an evidence base for the association of built environment features with walking in the context of Chinese urban design. Findings confirmed that the associations between “walkable” built environment features and walking established in existing research in other countries, also held true in the case of Chinese neighborhoods.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using global positioning system (GPS) methods to understand the spatial context of obesity and hypertension risk among a sample of low-income housing residents in New York City (n = 120). GPS feasibility among participants was measured with a pre- and post-survey as well as adherence to a protocol which included returning the GPS device as well as objective data analysed from the GPS devices. We also conducted qualitative interviews with 21 of the participants. Most of the sample was overweight (26.7%) or obese (40.0%). Almost one-third (30.8%) was pre-hypertensive and 39.2% was hypertensive. Participants reported high ratings of GPS acceptability, ease of use and low levels of wear-related concerns in addition to few concerns related to safety, loss or appearance, which were maintained after the baseline GPS feasibility data collection. Results show that GPS feasibility increased over time. The overall GPS return rate was 95.6%. Out of the total of 114 participants with GPS, 112 (98.2%) delivered at least one hour of GPS data for one day and 84 (73.7%) delivered at least one hour on 7 or more days. The qualitative interviews indicated that overall, participants enjoyed wearing the GPS devices, that they were easy to use and charge and that they generally forgot about the GPS device when wearing it daily. Findings demonstrate that GPS devices may be used in spatial epidemiology research in low-income and potentially other key vulnerable populations to understand geospatial determinants of obesity, hypertension and other diseases that these populations disproportionately experience.

2013

Abstract

China faces rising rates of overweight, obesity, and physical inactivity among its citizens. Risk is highest in China’s rapidly growing cities and urban populations. Current urban development practices and policies in China heighten this risk. These include policies that support decentralization in land use planning; practices of neighborhood gating; and policies and practices tied to motor vehicle travel, transit planning, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. In this paper, we review cultural, political, and economic issues that influence overweight, obesity, and inactivity in China. We examine key urban planning features and policies that shape urban environments that may compromise physical activity as part of everyday life, including walking and bicycling. We review the empirical research to identify planning and design strategies that support physical activity in other high-density cities in developing and developed countries. Finally, we identify successful strategies to increase physical activity in another growing, high-density city – New York City – to suggest strategies that may have relevance for rapidly urbanizing Chinese cities.

2011

Abstract

The Irvine Minnesota Inventory (IMI) was designed to measure environmental features that may be associated with physical activity and particularly walking. This study assesses how well the IMI predicts physical activity and walking behavior and develops shortened, validated audit tools. A version of the IMI was used in the Twin Cities Walking Study, a research project measuring how density, street pattern, mixed use, pedestrian infrastructure, and a variety of social and economic factors affect walking. Both bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess the predictive value of the IMI. We find that while this inventory provides reliable measurement of urban design features, only some of these features present associations with increased or decreased walking. This article presents two versions of shortened scales—a prudent scale, requiring association with two separate measures of a physical activity or walking behavior, and a moderate scale, requiring association with one measure of physical activity or walking. The shortened scales provide built environment audit instruments that have been tested both for inter-rater reliability and for associations with physical activity and walking. The results are also useful in showing which built environment variables are more reliably associated with walking for travel—characteristics of the sidewalk infrastructure, street crossings and traffic speeds, and land use are more strongly associated with walking for travel, while factors that measure aesthetics are typically less strongly associated with walking for travel.

2010

Abstract

We examine the diffusion of sustainable planning and design concepts into neighbourhood development projects, based on findings of a survey of planners in all 180 cities of five Southern California counties. Sustainable neighbourhood development has particular significance in Southern California owing to the regions’s rapid growth. We compare ‘typical’ and ‘innovative’ neighbourhood developments to determine whether sustainable planning and design concepts are being incorporated in these projects. Although planners agree that ‘innovative’ projects are more likely than ‘typical’ projects to incorporate sustainable planning and design concepts, sustainability is not a high priority even in innovative neighbourhood projects. Our respondents identified significant barriers to and limited opportunities for encouraging sustainable neighbourhood development. These trends in planning and design appear likely to continue unless strong policy and other mechanisms are adopted to encourage sustainable neighbourhood development. The paper concludes with recommendations to promote more sustainable neighbourhood development.

2009

Abstract

Physical inactivity is one of the most important public health issues in the U.S. and internationally. Increasingly, links are being identified between various elements of the physical—or built—environment and physical activity. To understand the impact of the built environment on physical activity, the development of high-quality measures is essential. Three categories of built environment data are being used: (1) perceived measures obtained by telephone interview or self-administered questionnaires; (2) observational measures obtained using systematic observational methods (audits); and (3) archival data sets that are often layered and analyzed with GIS. This review provides a critical assessment of these three types of built-environment measures relevant to the study of physical activity. Among perceived measures, 19 questionnaires were reviewed, ranging in length from 7 to 68 questions. Twenty audit tools were reviewed that cover community environments (i.e., neighborhoods, cities), parks, and trails. For GIS-derived measures, more than 50 studies were reviewed. A large degree of variability was found in the operationalization of common GIS measures, which include population density, land-use mix, access to recreational facilities, and street pattern. This first comprehensive examination of built-environment measures demonstrates considerable progress over the past decade, showing diverse environmental variables available that use multiple modes of assessment. Most can be considered first-generation measures, so further development is needed. In particular, further research is needed to improve the technical quality of measures, understand the relevance to various population groups, and understand the utility of measures for science and public health.

Abstract

Purpose – Recent years have witnessed a national policy shift towards involving state and local police in enforcing US federal immigration laws. Critics argue that involving local police in enforcing immigration law will decrease Latino(a) and immigrant residents' willingness to report crime and their cooperation with the police, and will also increase racial profiling and negatively impact documented and undocumented residents. This paper aims to examine Latino(a) residents' perceptions of the police before and after an extended local controversy about involving police in enforcing immigration laws in Costa Mesa, California.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper reports findings of a before-and-after study in the Westside area of the City of Costa Mesa, California. Methods include Spanish and English language telephone surveys of Latino(a) and non-Latino(a) residents in the Westside (n=169 respondents before and n=91 respondents after), conducted in 2002 and in 2007.

Findings – In survey responses, Latino(a) residents report that they are more likely to be stopped by the police in 2007 compared to 2002. Latino(a) respondents also have more negative perceptions of the police, find the police less helpful, feel less accepted in the community, and say that they are less likely to report crimes after the controversy, compared to before.

Originality/value – The findings show the importance of policies that encourage cooperation with and trust of the police. These results can help inform cities about the potential impacts of involving local police in immigration enforcement.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The Senior Walking Environmental Assessment Tool (SWEAT), an instrument for measuring built environmental features associated with physical activity of older adults, was revised to create an easier-to-use tool for use by practitioners and community members. METHODS: Inter-rater and intra-rater reliability of the modified instrument (SWEAT-R) was assessed in Portland, Oregon in 2007. Five trained observers audited street segments in 12 neighborhoods, resulting in 361 pairs of audits, including 63 repeated audits. RESULTS: Overall, 88% and 75% of items assessed had good or excellent inter-rater and intra-rater reliability, respectively. The revised instrument required less time to complete than the original instrument, while obtaining more information. CONCLUSION: SWEAT-R provides easy to gather, reliable data for use in community-based audits of built environment in relation to walking among older adults.

2008

Abstract

Research on urban design and walking often emphasizes macro-scale features of the physical environment, such as block length and number of intersections, that can be measured remotely using GIS and or aerial photographs. In contrast, urban designers emphasize the importance of micro-scale features in individuals' use and experience of neighbourhood environments. This paper moves beyond examining correlations of individual built environment features and walking, to begin to test proposals about which composite characteristics of the built environment (safety, comfort, etc.) may have the greatest impact on walking. Several urban design characteristics of 11 neighbourhoods throughout California were observed. Self-report, adult walking data on the number and types of walking trips were obtained from surveys administered to parents of 3rd–5th graders. Urban design features related to both accessibility and safety are associated with the amount of walking that adults do in their neighbourhoods. Grouping related urban design variables into indices provides some clarity as to how the built environment may impact walking. Safety emerges as the most important built environment characteristic (of those tested), related to both destination and recreational walking.

2007

Abstract

Urban design is frequently identified as a tool to reduce crime and improve traffic safety in urban neighborhoods. In this “before” and “after” evaluation, we assess a major urban revitalization in the Minnie Street neighborhood in Santa Ana, California, in terms of its impacts on crime and pedestrian safety. Conclusions suggest that urban design can help to improve crime and traffic safety in poor urban neighborhoods but that other factors must also be considered.

2006

Abstract

Background

Inter-rater reliability is an important element of environmental audit tools. This paper presents results of reliability tests of the Irvine–Minnesota Inventory, an extensive audit tool aimed at measuring a broad range of built environment features that may be linked to active living.

Methods

Inter-rater reliability was measured by percentage agreement between observers. Reliability was tested on a broad range of sites in both California and Minnesota.

Results

For the variables that remained in the inventory, in tests conducted at the University of California–Irvine, 76.8% of the variables had >80% agreement among the three raters. In tests conducted at the University of Minnesota, 99.2% of the variables had >80% agreement among the two raters.

Conclusions

Reliability was high for most items. The inventory was modified to eliminate items with low reliability. Differences in the use of the inventory and the goals of the research led to generally higher reliability in Minnesota. Those differences, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.

Abstract

Background

Inter-rater reliability is an important element of environmental audit tools. This paper presents results of reliability tests of the Irvine–Minnesota Inventory, an extensive audit tool aimed at measuring a broad range of built environment features that may be linked to active living.

Methods

Inter-rater reliability was measured by percentage agreement between observers. Reliability was tested on a broad range of sites in both California and Minnesota.

Results

For the variables that remained in the inventory, in tests conducted at the University of California–Irvine, 76.8% of the variables had >80% agreement among the three raters. In tests conducted at the University of Minnesota, 99.2% of the variables had >80% agreement among the two raters.

Conclusions

Reliability was high for most items. The inventory was modified to eliminate items with low reliability. Differences in the use of the inventory and the goals of the research led to generally higher reliability in Minnesota. Those differences, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.

Abstract

Abstract The U.S. faces rising rates of overweight and obesity. Active living-urban planning and design to promote physical activity?has emerged as a strategy to combat growing obesity. The active living movement initially targeted mostly middle-class, suburban communities. In this article, I argue that planning for active living must especially address low-income, Black, and Latino communities, where obesity and related health risks are greatest and resources least available. First I review the problem of obesity and related health conditions among low-income, Black, and Latino populations in the U.S., and identify the role of insufficient physical activity in this problem. I then examine physical environment and other factors that shape opportunities for physical activity in low-income communities and communities of color. Finally, I identify strategies that may help to promote active living in urban settings to better serve these communities. Abstract The U.S. faces rising rates of overweight and obesity. Active living-urban planning and design to promote physical activity?has emerged as a strategy to combat growing obesity. The active living movement initially targeted mostly middle-class, suburban communities. In this article, I argue that planning for active living must especially address low-income, Black, and Latino communities, where obesity and related health risks are greatest and resources least available. First I review the problem of obesity and related health conditions among low-income, Black, and Latino populations in the U.S., and identify the role of insufficient physical activity in this problem. I then examine physical environment and other factors that shape opportunities for physical activity in low-income communities and communities of color. Finally, I identify strategies that may help to promote active living in urban settings to better serve these communities.

Abstract

Research on fear of crime typically examines the perceptions of those who fear, emphasizing women’s experiences of vulnerability in public space. In this paper, I invert this practice to examine instead men’s experiences of being feared in public spaces. Drawing on interviews with 82 male college students, I use a social constructionist approach to examine how men’s experiences of being feared interact with men’s formation of racial identities and the racialization of public places. Fear is a key mechanism for justifying and maintaining race privilege and exclusion. The experience and interpretation of being feared (or not feared) in public space intersects with men’s construction of gender and race identities, and the ways that men assign racial meanings to public places. This paper examines these processes and proposes strategies for challenging fear and the exclusion it supports.

Abstract

Communities are traditionally built with one transportation mode and user in mindthe adult automobile driver. Recently, however, there has been an international focus on the trip to school as an opportunity to enhance childrens independent active travel. Several factors must be considered when designing programs to promote walking and bicycling. This paper examined the influence of child sex on caregivers decisions about travel mode choice to school. Caregivers of children in grades three to five from ten California Safe Routes to School communities were surveyed on their childs normal travel mode to school and factors that determined travel decisions. Results indicate that the odds of walking and bicycling to school are 40 percent lower in girls than boys; however, this relationship is significantly moderated by the caregivers own walking behavior. The findings suggest that programs that focus on increasing childrens active travel to school should consider multiple influences on health behavior, including the neighborhood physical activity of parents.

2005

Abstract

"This article evaluates California's pioneering Safe Routes to School (SR2S) program, which funds traffic improvement projects designed to improve safety for children's walking and bicycling to school and to increase the number of children who do so."

Abstract

Background

Walking or bicycling to school could contribute to children’s daily physical activity, but physical environment changes are often needed to improve the safety and convenience of walking and cycling routes. The California Safe Routes to School (SR2S) legislation provided competitive funds for construction projects such as sidewalks, traffic lights, pedestrian crossing improvements, and bicycle paths.

Methods

A cross-sectional evaluation examined the relationship between urban form changes and walking and bicycle travel to school. Surveys were distributed to parents of third- through fifth-grade children at ten schools that had a completed SR2S project nearby. Two groups were created based on whether parents stated that their children would pass the SR2S project on the way to school or not.

Results

Children who passed completed SR2S projects were more likely to show increases in walking or bicycle travel than were children who would not pass by projects (15% vs 4%), based on parents’ responses.

Conclusions

Results support the effectiveness of SR2S construction projects in increasing walking or bicycling to school for children who would pass these projects on their way to school.

2003

Abstract

Existing research typically examines fear in publicspace from women's perspectives. To date, environment–behavior researchers have largely overlooked men'sfear in publicspace, and the role of masculinity in shaping men's perceptions of fear and safety. This paper investigates the intersections of traditional, dominant masculinity—or masculinism—and men'sfear in publicspace, based on interviews with 82 undergraduate men students. Masculinism features qualities such as control, competition, aggression, and physical strength. We argue that, for many men, publicspaces and situations that challenge this masculinist identity may generate fear. Similarly, spaces and situations that promote feelings of safety do so, in part, by bolstering this identity. We employ the lens of masculinity to explore men's feelings of fear of the unknown, heightened awareness and safety, fear of confrontation, and safety in numbers. Conclusions examine implications for the development of masculinity and recommendations for future research.

Abstract

New Urbanism is increasingly applied to revitalize diverse urban neighborhoods. New Urbanism relies on an ideal of “community” that makes its suitability for these contexts questionable. This article examines the use of New Urbanism to revitalize neighborhoods with diverse populations, investigating the following concerns: (1) physical changes may not be the best solutions for the social problems that often face such neighborhoods, (2) New Urbanist ideas may have different meanings to different groups of neighborhood residents, (3) New Urbanist neighborhood renovation may displace low-income residents, and (4) New Urbanist participatory design processes may not accommodate diversity. The article presents findings from a case study of the Westside of the city of Costa Mesa, California. Recommendations suggest alternative planning and design strategies to support and reinvigorate diverse, urban neighborhoods.