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Walking and Proximity to the Urban Growth Boundary and Central Business District

      Background

      Planners have relied on the urban development boundary (UDB)/urban growth boundary (UGB) and central business district (CBD) to encourage contiguous urban development and conserve infrastructure. However, no studies have specifically examined the relationship between proximity to the UDB/UGB and CBD and walking behavior.

      Purpose

      To examine the relationship between UDB and CBD distance and walking in a sample of recent Cuban immigrants, who report little choice in where they live after arrival to the U.S.

      Methods

      Data were collected in 2008–2010 from 391 healthy, recent Cuban immigrants recruited and assessed within 90 days of arrival to the U.S. who resided throughout Miami–Dade County FL. Analyses in 2012–2013 examined the relationship between UDB and CBD distances for each participant’s residential address and purposive walking, controlling for key sociodemographics. Follow-up analyses examined whether Walk Score®, a built-environment walkability metric based on distance to amenities such as stores and parks, mediated the relationship between purposive walking and each of UDB and CBD distance.

      Results

      Each one-mile increase in distance from the UDB corresponded to an 11% increase in the number of minutes of purposive walking, whereas each one-mile increase from the CBD corresponded to a 5% decrease in the amount of purposive walking. Moreover, Walk Score mediated the relationship between walking and each of UDB and CBD distance.

      Conclusions

      Given the lack of walking and walkable destinations observed in proximity to the UDB/UGB boundary, a sprawl repair approach could be implemented, which strategically introduces mixed-use zoning to encourage walking throughout the boundary’s zone.
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