Community and Regional Planning Program


Date of this Version

Fall 12-2012


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Community and Regional Planning, Major: Community and Regional Planning, Under the Supervision of Professor Zhenghong Tang. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2012

Copyright 2012, Jenna Danelle Muhlbach


In recent years, American communities have been diagnosed with several chronic health diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Several researchers attribute sedentary lifestyles as one of the contributing factors to chronic diseases. The lack of physical exercise can be blamed by the auto-dependent suburbia lifestyle that many generations have become accustomed to. Poor land use developments have roads and freeways dominating the use of space, with the intent of having an automobile get from one place to another as efficiently as possible. This has allowed places to be much further apart therefore it has had a negative impact on the pedestrian environment. Historically, pedestrian planning has been a low priority in the United States. However in recent years, urban planners have been exploring alternative modes of transportation that includes walking and bicycling. Pedestrian plans have been established in some cities throughout the United States, however a majority of cities do not have a pedestrian plan.

This research investigates the health benefits of walking along with the benefits of planning for pedestrians. Do those cities that take interest in pedestrians have high quality pedestrian plans or strong pedestrian components as part of a comprehensive plan? What consists of a high quality pedestrian plan?

The primary research method used was plan evaluation which includes plans from Lincoln, Nebraska; Boulder, Colorado; Minneapolis Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California; and Seattle, Washington. This paper first explores Lincoln, Nebraska's plans and the lack of pedestrian components in its plans. Then it explores the five other well-known cities' pedestrian plans. The intent of this research is to compare these plans to a pedestrian element coding worksheet to see if these cities' plans contain all crucial elements for a high quality pedestrian plan. Once the plans are analyzed, the coding worksheets show what elements (indicators) are included in the plans and which are not included. The outcomes of this research produces an outline stating what elements are needed for an ideal pedestrian plan.

Advisor: Zhenghong Tang