For Immediate Release
7 July 2016
Berkeley, CA. Doctor Daniel A. Rodríguez is joining the College of Environmental Design this fall as Chancellor’s Professor of City and Regional Planning. His research focuses on the relationship between transportation, the built environment and land development. On an individual level, his work has considered the land value impact of transit investment and the impact of urban form on physical activity and travelling behavior, and on a regional scale, he has studied the relationship between regional policies and travel patterns and how plans can be used to strengthen the connection between transportation and land use.
Professor Rodríguez received his PhD at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2000 and his Master of Science in Transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1996. He is currently on the Editorial Board for the Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Transport and Land Use, Journal of Transport and Health, International Journal of Sustainable Mobility and Journal of Architectural Planning and Research.
A majority of Professor Rodríguez’s work is driven by practical problems and finding solutions for planners and policy-makers. Working within the health, nutrition, economics, geography and public policy disciplines, he has examined how changes to the physical attributes of the environment, such as the location of bus routes, rail lines, supermarkets and trails, are related to changes in physical activity; how land management tools can be used to encourage transit development and recapture property value increases by public action; and identified the causes and consequences of the rising levels of motorcycle ownership and use in Latin America.
Below is a Q&A with Professor Rodríguez on his new role in the City & Regional Planning Department.
What issues or themes do you address in your current research?
“Right now I’m very interested in how the built environment affects how people behave, and the environmental and health consequences that follow from that. I do a lot of work with public health, and I hope to do more of that work through the Institute of Urban and Regional Development.”
What brought you to the College of Environmental Design?
“I think there are many attractive things about the college. Of course there’s world recognition, but there’s also the ability to collaborate with other researchers that are doing interesting work that’s related and complementary to the work I do, and being in a much larger metropolitan area where things are happening much faster so you can see the fruits of your labor on the ground much quicker.”
Much of your work focuses on the impact of the built environment on people’s transportation habits. How do you plan to explore those themes in the Bay Area?
“There are at least two natural connections to the Bay Area—the first one has to do with many of the challenges the Bay Area is facing right now, particularly around issues of housing. Part of the success of the Bay Area has also led to major problems like congestion and housing affordability. I think a lot of the solutions that could be put in place happen to hinge on how we plan transportation systems and how we develop land. The Bay Area is a wonderful location for that because of the urgency of those problems. The second thing that’s very attractive about the Bay Area in terms of getting these problems addressed and on the ground is the prevalence of technology. Of course there’s so much thinking and innovation happening around tech that I’m very eager to develop some of these connections and work on that area to address issues of health, the environment and cities.”
This fall, you are teaching “Active Transportation” (CY PLAN 215) as a graduate course. What will the course cover?
“If you look at the planning world maybe 10 or 15 years ago, very few programs nationally—or even worldwide—were offering any sort of active transportation course. By that I mean courses that help planners and professionals build cities that are for walking and bicycling, for getting around in green modes, not motor vehicles, but in self-propelled ways. In the past 10 to 15 years, there’s been a watershed movement towards understanding that these modes are very important, not only because they don’t pollute, but because they also improve our health by providing us physical activity and create a strong sense of place. We also know now that for public transportation, the vast majority of the trips that people take begin or end with bicycles or walking. It’s been ignored in the past, and now there’s a sense that we can’t do that anymore. What this course tries to do is help professionals understand the importance of walking and biking, what could be done to promote it, how it can be integrated in a broader planning agenda, how it interacts with other pieces of planning like land development, economic development, housing, and the tools and funding mechanisms that exist to further promote biking.”