Master’s Project Abstracts: Public Health and Transportation

The Department of City and Regional Planning’s graduating class of 2019 completed their Master’s Projects on a vast array of topics, all demonstrating independent, original work on students’ areas of interest. This series shares the abstracts of projects that focus on similar topics. We begin with public health and transportation.


Neighborhood air quality and health: Quantifying outdoor air pollution risk in Philadelphia 

Michele Plaugic

In 2010, approximately 160,000 premature deaths were associated with particulate matter exposure, and 4,300 deaths with ozone exposure in the U.S., according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency research. Considering the majority of the U.S. population lives in an urban area, the potential for exposure to outdoor air pollution is substantial. Traffic-related air pollution is associated with an increased risk of adult and child asthma, impaired lung function, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other respiratory diseases. Identifying susceptibility and vulnerability to outdoor air pollution can help cities make appropriate planning and policy decisions to protect current and future residents. This research explores the association between neighborhood air pollution variables and related chronic diseases, including asthma, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. To visualize which areas of the city are most vulnerable to outdoor air pollution, I created a risk index for outdoor air pollution based on elements of exposure, susceptibility, and adaptability. Census tracts with a risk index in the highest quartile had increased odds of having higher rates of each of the negative health outcomes included in the model. While the specific cause of these disparities has not been studied in this research, it is obvious that certain tracts share a disproportionate risk from exposure to outdoor air pollution.


Triumph of the Bike Sharing: Understanding Spatiotemporal Patterns of Dock-less Shared Bicycles in Shenzhen

Jiangyu Wu

As an innovative transport alternative for short-distance trips, dock-less bike share has swept across the globe since 2016. Its great convenience, flexibility, low fare and health benefits attract urban dwellers’ interests. For cities, it also created great economic value, environmental benefits and close integration with existing public transit system. With dozens of bike-share companies quickly flooding city streets with millions of brightly colored shared bicycles, China is experiencing a bike share boom since 2016. In this study, I take Shenzhen as a research example to explore how bike sharing usage pattern is affected by different factors. The results reveal that there are five significant hot spots of bike share usage in Shenzhen, presenting a distinct layer structure. In addition, the results also indicate population, employment, restaurants, companies, schools, urban road network, metro station and bike availability are the most significant influencing factors. Various stakeholders can take advantage of the analysis. For bike share operation companies, they should prioritize the integration of bike share and metro system rather than bus system. In addition, it is important to deploy specialized team to work on the oversupply and under-supply of bikes during peak hours. For government, the real-time data generated by bike share usage could assist decision-makers to deploy the bike-related infrastructure, even the transport infrastructure in a more effective way. In short, there is an interesting and complicated interaction between bike sharing activities and our urban environment. We are looking forward to seeing bike sharing to bring more amazing changes and surprises to our cities!


Institutional Foodshed Analysis: Exploring the Application and Feasibility of a Novel Methodology at a North Carolina Hospital

Alison Salomon

Foodshed analysis is a tool that planners may be able to use, but it has not been studied in an institutional context. This research begins to address this knowledge gap by articulating a methodology for institutional foodshed analysis, implementing the methodology at a large hospital, and assessing the tool’s feasibility.


How Streets Adapt to New Generation Transportation: Analysis of Ridesourcing Pick-up and Drop-off Hot-spots and Street Improvement Design based on Trajectory Data

Chenqi Zhu

Urban mobility is rapidly evolving in recent years with the flourish of ridesourcing. This new generation transportation offers more convenient options for point to point trips but at the same time generates more conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists, transit and other vehicles. This study discussed how streets adapt to new generation transportation based on 3,128,027 ridesourcing trips in Xi’an, China. I first identified ridesourcing’s pick-up and drop-off hot-spots in Xi’an using DBSCAN and Getis-Ord Gi statistics, and then analyzed hot-spot locations from the street scale. I found hot-spots in Xi’an mainly located on the city’s main axis and Ring Roads surrounding by five different land use types. Finally, a ridesourcing pick-up and drop-off design in highly mixed land use area was showcased.


For more information on Master’s Project process, see the DCRP page.

Featured Image: New East, UNC Chapel Hill. Creative Commons from Wikipedia.