A Community Greenway Routed Near Schools: How It Was Planned and the Extent of Its Use by Schoolchildren
Taylor, Crystal (author)
Coutts, Christopher (professor directing dissertation)
Chanton, Jeffrey P. (university representative)
Miles, Rebecca (committee member)
Chapin, Timothy Stewart (committee member)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
College of Social Sciences and Public Policy (degree granting college)
Department of Urban and Regional Planning (degree granting department)
In this dissertation, I explore how a community in East Los Angeles, California planned a urban greenway routed by local schools and to what extent schoolchildren use the trail. Previous research has largely focused on greenways as a community amenity for adults. However in this study, I investigate schoolchildren's use of an urban rail-trail. With this greenway being routed near schools, I explore to what extent, if any, are schoolchildren using the greenway to actively travel to school. Though there is extensive literature on both greenways and active travel to school as discrete research topics, there is a gap in the literature concerning whether or not greenways can serve as an environmental support for children's active travel behavior to school. Concerning the research design, I used a single case study approach to document the critical case of the Whittier Greenway. After conducting a nation-wide search, I selected this case based on the following criteria. First, I located greenways routed near school properties. Second, I prioritized urban greenway sites over rural greenway sites. I selected Whittier, California because it has sufficient density where children's active travel to school is more likely to occur than in more rural settings. For the methodology, I interviewed key individuals who have historical knowledge of the trail, analyzed planning documentation, and retrieved archival resources to create a rich descriptive account of how the greenway was created. To determine children's greenway use and active travel behaviors, I employed survey methodology at three schools with property adjacent to the greenway: two elementary schools and one high school. One of the three schools has restrictive access to the greenway. Each school has a largely Latino student population. I used student surveys at the high school and parents surveys at the elementary schools. Both surveys are adapted from the nationally recognized Safe Routes to School survey to include greenway use and behavior questions. To determine children's use of the greenway, I employed descriptive statistics and performed a content analysis. Also, I ran descriptive statistics, a logistic regression, and a Pearson's Chi-Square analysis to address the extent that schoolchildren are using the greenway to travel to school. Concerning the findings, this case illustrates how a city planned and created an urban greenway. Serving as the catalyst that started the project and part of the general planning process, participation played a vital role in the creation of the Whittier Greenway. This case also reveals how one community successfully planned and constructed an urban rail-trail without the use of a city's general funds. A further analysis of the survey results reveals that both children and youth use the greenway as a recreational amenity. Though high school students use the greenway for recreation, their most common use of the greenway was traveling to destinations within their community. From a sample of active travelers, the results show that greenways may make it easier for high school students to walk or cycle to school compared to walking or cycling through neighborhoods. Distance and traveling with a companion are significant predictors that influence students' use of a greenway when traveling to school. As the distance from home to school increases, high school students are more likely to take the greenway to travel to school as compared to active travel through neighborhoods. High school students are also more likely to use the greenway to go to school if they travel alone rather than with a companion. For other communities contemplating a greenway project, the Whittier Case offers greenway practitioners' lessons on how to plan and fund an urban greenway near schools. In addition to being a recreational support, the Whittier Greenway serves as a transportation corridor for high school students to travel to school among other community destinations. In terms of policy implications, evidence from this case suggests that a greenway intervention near schools may be a viable strategy worth further testing to promote active travel to school in other communities.
Active Travel to School, Green space, Greenway, Planning, Schools, Youth and Children
May 22, 2014.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Christopher Coutts, Professor Directing Dissertation; Jeffrey Chanton, University Representative; Rebecca Miles, Committee Member; Tim Chapin, Committee Member.
Florida State University
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s). The copyright in theses and dissertations completed at Florida State University is held by the students who author them.