STRIDE PROJECT HIGHLIGHT: Developing a Course on Understanding Relationships Between the Built Environment, Physical Activity, Public Health, Urban Mobility, & Traffic Congestion

Young woman running on the sidewalk besides traffic road in the city
A woman runs on the sidewalk next to road traffic in the city.

This multi-disciplinary STRIDE-funded project is led by Dr. Dimitra Michalaka and her co-PI, Dr. Jeff Davis of The Citadel (TC). Other team members include Dr. Kweku Brown (TC), Dr. Daniel Bornstein of the Department of Health and Human Performance at TC, and Dr. John Vena of the Medical University of South Carolina.

The purpose of the project is to create a graduate level course that focuses on the built environment, related aspects of urban mobility and impacts on public health. The course will provide students in transportation engineering, city planning, public health, physical activity, landscape architecture, and public administration with foundational knowledge of the effects of transportation infrastructure on health, as well as traffic congestion. The course will also provide practical approaches to solutions for problems associated with planning, policy and design in improving public health outcomes and mitigating congestion.

Active travel modes, including walking, biking and public transportation, have been shown to mitigate traffic congestion in urban areas and increase levels of physical activity, which support beneficial public health outcomes. The adverse economic and social impact of physical inactivity on residents in the United States is staggering. Negative effects of urban sprawl, segregation of land uses, and reliance on single occupancy automobiles for urban mobility are contributing factors to this pervasive problem. Seventy-two percent of trips less than 3 miles and 60 percent of trips less than 2 miles are made by private vehicles in the U.S.  Providing feasible travel alternatives for shorter trip distances will reduce demand on the roadway network and serve to mitigate congestion.

It is expected that by creating a course that cuts across various disciplines, students will be engaged outside of their traditional academic silos thus helping to facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration. The goal is for students with diverse backgrounds to be equipped to evaluate urban, suburban communities, and neighborhoods and assessing measures of public health, with an emphasis on adoption of polices and approaches for improving desirable outcomes supporting healthier communities.

The course materials and educational modules will be shared initially with STRIDE partner institutions. An assessment of learning outcomes and student perceptions from the pilot offering in Summer 2019.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Dimitra Michalaka
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
The Citadel

Dr. Jeff Davis
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
The Citadel