Three Maryland Communities Get Help Improving Their Walking Environments

Project staff at the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland, College Park, Md., worked in three diverse Maryland communities—Bel Air, College Park and Turner Station—to assess the implementation and likely impact of new land use and zoning codes on the walking environment.

In each of the communities, project staff evaluated land use and zoning codes, conducted a walking survey and focus groups and administered pedestrian diaries. Staff members analyzed and relayed the findings to town planners and other groups.

Key Results

  • In collaboration with town planners or local coalitions and residents in each community, project staff collected 725 walking surveys, conducted three focus groups with six to 12 participants each and collected 86 completed pedestrian diaries.

  • The communities used their funds for local projects: enhancements to a walking trail along a public park in Bel Air; development of an off-road hiker/bike trail in College Park; and the design and building of a waterfront exercise path in Turner Station.

Key Findings

  • The three communities have very different planning and zoning structures, and very different development codes, despite the codes having been revised according to the Maryland Smart Growth initiative.

  • The codes primarily affect new development. They are unlikely to induce much change in the walking environment in communities where there is little investment or new development.