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18 NOV 2021 (THU), 14:00 – 15:00 HKT / 17 NOV 2021 (WED), 22:00 – 23:00 PST

Walkable for Whom: Health, Social Justice, and Equity Impacts of the Built and Natural Environment



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Confirmation emails with ZOOM link will be sent to participants.


Professor Lawrence D. Frank, Ph.D., CIP

Professor, Urban Studies and Planning @ UC San Diego

President, Urban Design 4 Health, Inc.

DATE & TIME: 18 November 2021 (Thu), 14:00 – 15:00 (Hong Kong Time) /

17 November 2021 (Wed), 22:00 – 23:00 (Pacific Standard Time)

This Distinguished Transport Lecture will be held on ZOOM.


Compact walkable environments with greenspace can support active travel and reduce GHG emissions. Recent evidence suggests reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease in more walkable environments. Both built and natural environments may be a factor influencing health and GHG emissions. However, considerably different relationships between health outcomes and walkability exist across income and ethnicity. Disadvantaged are often located in fairly central dense urban environments creating confusing over the convergence of walkability and public health concerns. More at risk populations are often located in places with increased exposure to air pollution and noise, while also lacking in access to greenspace.

Density and proximity are core tenets of walkability which increases exposure and impact of other characteristics of the surrounding environment. For the wealthy this often means access to greenspace, shops, services, and entertainment options while for the poor it means air pollution, noise, and risk of injury or crime. Disadvantaged populations are more likely to develop chronic disease and also more likely to be at risk of mortality from COVID-19. Several policy directives including Justice 40 within the USA and other initiatives from the WHO have been spurred by the pandemic. This presentation will discuss the causal pathway and available evidence linking the physical environment with chronic and infectious disease; and how this pathway diverges for the “haves” versus “have nots.”

From an equity and social justice perspective, it is becoming essential to provide a more complete and effective definition of what constitutes a healthy environment and for whom.


Dr. Frank specializes in the interaction between land use, travel behavior, air quality and health; and in the energy use and climate change impacts of urban form policies. He is a “walkability pioneer” and was among the very first to quantify connections between built environment, active transportation, and health. He began using the term “walkability” in the early 90’s and his work led to WalkScore and has been cited over 40,000 times. He has been listed in Thompson and Reuter’s top 1% in the social sciences and is the #1 top ranked planning academic in North America according to a recent Google Scholar ranking. Dr. Frank has published over 200 peer reviewed articles and reports and co-authored Heath and Community Design and Urban Sprawl and Public Health nearly 2 decades ago that mapped out the field emerging at the nexus between built and natural environments and health.


Institute of Transport Studies, The University of Hong Kong

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