Lounsbury, Tania by lev17755


									                                Lounsbury, Tania
                Local Ordinances That Promote Physical Activity
                       A Survey of Municipal Policies in Utah
            Faculty Mentor: Dr. Shaunna K. Burbidge Ph.D., Geography Department

Background: The Utah Department of Health is revisiting a 2001 study. The original study,
published in 2003, accomplished the following three objectives: (1) identified types of
municipal employees responsible for physical activity policies, (2) identified municipal
ordinances that influenced physical activity, and (3) determined local governments' intentions to
implement policies. Re-examining the study was to help the Department understand how Utahan
cities are using local ordinances, and whether ordinances encourage or discourage physical
activity levels of residents. Review of the original survey and analysis methods would hopefully
facilitate the ease of other states performing similar studies throughout the next decade. The
main benefit of this research was to create an in-depth understanding of how municipalities in
Utah are managing factors that affect physical activity, and consequently public health. The
results would enable local and state governments to enact ordinances in an effort to improve
public health.

Individual area of focus: I had intended to focus on specific areas of research for both sidewalks
and bicycles, such as: determining the conditions, width, friendliness to pedestrian use, and
crosswalks; and for bicycles/lane conditions, width, availability, accessibility, shared use-lanes
(i.e. lanes designated for both bicycles and vehicles), and structures such as tunnels and bridges.
Then, I was to review the data obtained from each municipality and determine what, if any,
specific recommendations for ordinances relating to sidewalks and bicycle paths would be
beneficial. I planned on being able to recommend methods of implementation that would exhibit
the most potential for improving the overall public health in Utah.

Methods and Data Acquisition: We determined that it would be most beneficial to review the
ordinances of those municipalities in Utah with populations over 5,000. After tabulating the
cities by population and finding that there were 81 cities that met this description, my mentor
realized that it would be most beneficial to utilize the skills of the students in one of the senior
capstone courses to gather data. The students in the Geography 410 course were divided into
groups of three or four students and assigned four to six municipalities. Myself and the two
other research students for this project worked directly with the students to provide leadership
and accountability. For each municipality the students were responsible for completing the
survey that had questions in the following areas: Physical infrastructure policies and provisions,
Policy issues and public/private collaboration, and Nutrition. Most of the 89 questions in the
survey required two to four part answers.

The process of data acquisition was much more difficult than anticipated and took a full four
months to complete. There was difficulty in obtaining copies of codes and ordinances from
various cities. Ordinances were often too ambiguous to interpret. I encouraged the students in
the groups I oversaw to reach out to city planners, as well as representatives from the local parks
and recreation and health departments. It became apparent quickly that even department
directors or planners were not aware of specific ordinances that we were looking for and it was
difficult to sort through hundreds of pages of code for each municipality finding answers to such
specific questions. Although tedious, the task proved to be possible and all but one survey was
submitted for tabulation.

Tabulation: The results of each survey were manually entered into a final document using a
binary system (1 and 0 for yes and no) so the results could be graphed and configured into
various different reports.

Shift in focus: I was disappointed that data acquisition took the entire Winter semester to
complete and due to a change in my graduation date I was not be able to be involved in the final
recommendation process. However, I was able to present preliminary results at various

Lounsbury, T.L. (2009) Local Ordinances that Promote Physical Activity: A Longitudinal
Study of Municipal Policies in Utah.
           Presented at the 2009 Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research at
              Westminster College in Sugarhouse, UT.
           Presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Association of American
              Geographers in Las Vegas, NV.
           Poster presentation at the BYU 2009 President's Leadership Council meeting
           Poster Presentation at the 2009 BYU Mary Lou Fulton Mentored Learning

Colleague Acknowledgement:

Jonathan Paul Brooks, Texas A&M University, College of Architecture and Urban Planning,
M.S. Candidate

Trenton Robertson, University of Utah, School of Architecture and Planning, Department of
Metropolitan Planning, M.S. Candidate

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