Impacts of Small Changes in Thoroughfare Connectivity on the Potential for Student Walking

Jeremy D. Auerbach, Eugene C. Fitzhugh, Ellen Zavisca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Distance between a student residence and their school is as a major barrier for active commuting while trends in school siting and residential development have increased this distance. This study conducted a cost–benefit analysis of increased thoroughfare connectivity around schools in a representative US school system. A novel metric for organizations to rank schools by their walkability is introduced, and then network optimization techniques located the new thoroughfare connections that maximized student walking and minimized the length of the new connection. The increased time of physical activity from student walking and the cost savings from busing fewer students were compared to the financial construction costs of the new thoroughfares. Results from this case study show that recent development trends are antithetical to student active commuting, that short and inexpensive new thoroughfares can increase the number of student walkers and their physical activity and reduce busing costs, traffic, accidents, and pollution. This work calls for a collaboration between planners, school officials, and developers to design neighborhoods around schools that improve the health of the community and its children.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Urban Planning and Development
Issue number4
Early online date16 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Networks
  • optimization
  • walking
  • active commuting
  • built environment
  • transportation planning


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