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Living close to busy roads reduces wellbeing

Anciaes, PR; Scholes, S; Stockton, J; Ortegon, A; (2017) Living close to busy roads reduces wellbeing. Presented at: International Conference on Urban Health 2017, Coimbra, Portugal. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: There is growing evidence that living close to busy roads is associated with lower levels of physical activity, and that less physical activity is associated with lower wellbeing. However, this evidence comes mainly from two separate strands of research, which have seldom been integrated. This paper decomposes the chain of associations through which the presence of large road infrastructure and motorised traffic in a neighbourhood can reduce the wellbeing of local residents, looking at the empirical associations between objective and perceived traffic conditions, reported impact on walking, and wellbeing. METHODS: We collected data in four urban neighbourhoods in England bisected by busy roads. A self-completion questionnaire covered perceptions of traffic volumes and speeds, walking behaviour, health, social capital, wellbeing, and demographics. Traffic conditions were measured using video surveys. A sequence of statistical models was estimated. The first model related objective and perceived traffic volume and speed. The second model related those perceived traffic conditions with reported impacts of those conditions as barriers to walking or factors explaining avoidance of walking along or across the busy road. The third model tested whether certain combinations of perceptions, and reported impacts of traffic conditions were predictive of scores on a validated wellbeing scale. RESULTS: Firstly, we found that perceptions about traffic volumes and speeds depend on both traffic composition and on how the speed of traffic varies during the day and relates to historical and reference values. Secondly, individuals who perceived traffic volumes and speeds as high were more likely to either report traffic as a barrier to walking and to report avoiding the busy road. Thirdly, participants who had the worst possible combination of perceptions (high traffic volumes and speeds) and impacts (traffic as a barrier to walking and avoidance of walking along or across the busy road) had a significantly lower wellbeing than average, after accounting for demographic and location confounders. IMPLICATIONS. The chain of associations beginning with perceived high traffic volumes and speeds leading to reported barriers to walking and reported avoidance of the busy road was shown in this study to be significantly associated with lower wellbeing. Policy interventions addressing the links between busy roads and the wellbeing of local residents should aim to reduce both the volume and the speed of traffic to reduce their impact as barriers to walking and as a factor influencing people’s mobility around their neighbourhood.

Type: Conference item (Presentation)
Title: Living close to busy roads reduces wellbeing
Event: International Conference on Urban Health 2017
Location: Coimbra, Portugal
Dates: 26 - 29 September 2017
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.icuh2017.org/
Language: English
Keywords: Roads, motorised traffic, pedestrians, perceptions, walking, wellbeing
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Civil, Environ and Geomatic Eng
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1559484
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