Rich people walk and bike for different reasons than poor people do @grist

You might think you know what determines whether people will walk or bike around a neighborhood. Does it have complete streets with sidewalks and bike lanes? Does it have safe speed limits for cars and traffic-calming features like median islands? Is it well-lit at night and safe from crime? And, in the metric that Walk Score made famous, are there businesses and transit stops near people’s homes?
But a recent study finds that what we traditionally consider the essential components of walkable urbanism are not necessarily the most important factors to everyone. The paper’s authors, Cynthia Chen and Xi Zhu, a professor of civil engineering and a former graduate student, respectively, at the University of Washington, surveyed residents with both high and low incomes in neighborhoods around Lake Washington in Seattle. For lower-income people, Zhu and Chen found the neighborhood qualities that were associated with more walking were ones you would expect, such as density and convenience. For rich people, those things didn’t matter. What mattered was whether they perceived their neighborhood as attractive.


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