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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Anne Vernez-Moudon
URBDP 576
Seattle Campus

Pedestrian Travel, Land Use, and Urban Form

Graduate seminar concentrating on walking as a mode of transportation in cities and city-regions, including social, cognitive, and perceptual dimensions of pedestrian movement and behavior theory. Offered: jointly with CEE 586.

Class description

Walking is a fundamental human activity. Bipedalism constituted a crucial turning point in the evolution of the human species, marking the ability to move through space while using hands and the upper body part for purposes other than travel. To be a pedestrian is a highly valued state that, fortunately, most human possess during most of their lives. Indeed, until recently, those who could not walk had limited life prospects. Until recently as well, people's principal means of moving through space for both short and long distances was by walking.

Pedestrian movement used to be privileged, if not exclusively provided in cities. Today, interestingly, ADA laws require that settlements be designed to accommodate those who cannot walk. Yet at the same time many transportation and land use and development laws exist to prohibit those who can walk to do so in an increasingly large part of human settlements. In today's cities and inhabited regions, distances between such basic activities as housing and retail are so long as to make walking between them impractical. Further, streets and roadways as principal spaces reserved for movement within cities are designed to keep pedestrians away as conditions within them either prohibit walking or are life-threatening to pedestrians. Restrictions to walking in cities have brought changes in behaviors, which, cumulatively, have contributed to the following conditions: increased dependence on cars as a mode of transport and decrease physical activity for urbanites. Increased dependence on cars has brought traffic congestion, and, ironically, limited mobility. Too many cars contribute to environmental degradation. Also, as cars take over the streets, there are fewer opportunities to walk and fewer pedestrians, leading to lower prospects for healthy living.

The course concentrates on walking as a mode of transportation in cities and city-regions. Cities today occupy vast areas that are easily traveled via motorized means of transportation. However, a substantial portion of travel in cities covers relatively short distances that can, and perhaps should, be walkable, or covered by non-motorized means of transport such as bicycling, scootering, roller-skating, or roller-blading. We will also consider that motorized modes of transport, especially public transport, must be supported by walking, and that convenient and pleasant walking conditions contribute to quality of life. The course will include the following topics:

Pedestrian movement and behavior theory (social, cognitive, and perceptual dimensions); related spatial and physical requirements

Walking as no-impact mode of transportation; transportation alternatives, mode choice, mode split; transportation and environmental dimensions of walking

Walking as a means of being physically active, contributing to improving health; public health dimensions of walking

Principles and measures of land use and urban form that support walking Neighborhood design models for walking: Neighborhood Units and TODs

Street design for enjoyable and safe walking

International perspectives: Asia and Europe

Student learning goals

Understand the fundamental role of walking in people's everyday life: the physical, physiological, psychological, emotional, social, cultural, environmental, ecological, and economic dimensions of walking

Understand the effects of technology and mechanized transportation on travel behavior

Be familiar with the evolution of street design and roadway management practices and standards in the U.S.: the institutional context within which streets are built and maintained; the evidence (or lack thereof) used for establishing standards

Be familiar with best practices in the US and in other countries

Acquire the technical knowledge and skills needed to design innovative and walking-supportive streets and environments

Acquire knowledge about institutionally and politically savvy approaches to street design reform.

General method of instruction

Class sessions include both lectures and discussions.

Recommended preparation

The course is open to graduate students and seniors with a background and interest in urban form and transportation.

Class assignments and grading

Students are required to prepare for, attend, and be engaged in every session. Readings are assigned for each session and individual students will choose additional readings directed to their personal needs and interest. Assignments will cover specific reading and class session topics. Class participation will account for 25% of the grade and assignments for 75%.

Class participation will account for 25% of the grade and assignments for 75%.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Anne Vernez-Moudon
Date: 03/21/2010