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Michael Skipper and Leslie A. Meehan

Active transportation refers to modes of travel that incorporate physical activity as part of the trip. Examples include walking and bicycling, as well as transit, since walking or bicycling is typically required for transit station access and egress. The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization has recently restructured its regional transportation policies and programming priorities as part of the development of the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan to enable more active transportation by encouraging the implementation of infrastructure such as sidewalks, bikeways, and transit. The result is a significant increase in the number of federally-funded transportation projects in the greater Nashville region that provide opportunities for active transportation trips.

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Angie L. Cradock, David Buchner, Hatidza Zaganjor, John V. Thomas, James F. Sallis, Kenneth Rose, Leslie Meehan, Megan Lawson, René Lavinghouze, Mark Fenton, Heather M. Devlin, Susan A. Carlson, Torsha Bhattacharya, and Janet E. Fulton

Background: Built environment approaches to promoting physical activity can provide economic value to communities. How best to assess this value is uncertain. This study engaged experts to identify a set of key economic indicators useful for evaluation, research, and public health practice. Methods: Using a modified Delphi process, a multidisciplinary group of experts participated in (1) one of 5 discussion groups (n = 21 experts), (2) a 2-day facilitated workshop (n = 19 experts), and/or (3) online surveys (n = 16 experts). Results: Experts identified 73 economic indicators, then used a 5-point scale to rate them on 3 properties: measurement quality, feasibility of use by a community, and influence on community decision making. Twenty-four indicators were highly rated (≥3.9 on all properties). The 10 highest-rated “key” indicators were walkability score, residential vacancy rate, housing affordability, property tax revenue, retail sales per square foot, number of small businesses, vehicle miles traveled per capita, employment, air quality, and life expectancy. Conclusion: This study identified key economic indicators that could characterize the economic value of built environment approaches to promoting physical activity. Additional work could demonstrate the validity, feasibility, and usefulness of these key indicators, in particular to inform decisions about community design.