What I learned from Marlon Boarnet about walking in the suburbs

Marlon Boarnet of UCI gave a seminar in our school yesterday on some of his collaborative research on walking in the suburbs. I took the following from the talk:

1. Suburbs have various spatial forms, and some of those may be conducive to walking in polycentric regions.

2. Those spatial forms may be difficult to divine empirically, but business number and–perhaps–service diversity may be one way to define a center/cluster.

3. Centers and clusters in the polycentric city can foster walking and dampen driving, though the latter effect appears weakly significant in this test.

4. There is a potential tradeoff between making retail clusters that serve nearby residents who walk becoming greater draws to the larger region that can generate auto traffic into the neighborhood.

5. Successful scholars experiment with cutting-edge ideas and analogies, some of which work, some of which don’t, but from that experiment new concepts and measures emanate.