Thursday, September 16, 2010

Habitat for People

Over at my real job (no, in case you were wondering this is not my real job, just a time-consuming hobby) I've been working lately on a habitat evaluation project. We're looking at a new method of habitat analysis that considers hundreds of factors (type of trees, location of boulders, number of downed logs), then assigns a value to the habitat based on all those factors. The method draws on about 100,000 studies of wildlife habitat.

Want to guess how many studies there are of pedestrian habitat?

Okay, it's hard to say precisely. BUT one recent count puts the number of studies related to travel and the built environment at about 200. So even if you factor in a few studies related to pedestrians safety, maybe a handful about walking and health, or walking and economics, I'd guess the number is less than 1,000.

Not that I begrude the critters their share of attention, but it's curious how little interest we show in learning about ourselves and our human environment. We talk big about wanting to be "green" and encourage the use of alternative transportation, but we don't seem to be willing to put forward the effort (much less the funding) to really understand how to build cities that will acheive those goals. Seems like we should try to fix that...

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