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Dr. Sweta Byahut Conducts Seminar at Georgia Tech

Street Density Map of in Hamilton County, Ohio

Dr. Sweta Byahut, Assistant Professor of Community Planning at Auburn University, conducted an invited research seminar on Another Look at the 5Ds: Insights from a Cincinnati Area based GPS Survey” in March 2013,as part of the Spring 2013 seminar series at the School of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech for their PhD students and faculty. Other presenters in this year’s seminar series include Georgia State University economist Carlianne Patrick, Georgia State economist Spencer Banzhaf, Savannah State University city planner Denden Rukmana, and Clemson city planner Catlin Dyckman. After the seminar she had a chance to interact with faculty to learn about their current research and visit their GIS Center.

Dr. Byahut discussed her research design and outcomes of her recently completed dissertation research. In her research, she explores the land use—transportation—environmental nexus in Hamilton County, Ohio that includes the City of Cincinnati.  Carbon dioxide emissions from household travel are a major contributor to climate change in the United States, generating up to 65 percent of all transportation emissions in the United States. Dr. Byahut examines the impact of land use diversity and other built environment characteristics on household travel and explores the feasibility of using diversity at the neighborhood scale as a potential climate mitigation tool. The hypothesis  is that there is a significant link between different aspects of the built environment and household travel measured in vehicle miles traveled.

Many scholarly concerns have been raised that the link between land use and travel is not strong enough due to lack of enough convincing studies and often conflicting evidence. Byahut developed an innovative entropy-based measure of land use diversity, and measures for building density, street and intersection density, distance to transit, and regional accessibility using advanced GIS tools and estimated household travel from the GPS-based Cincinnati Household Travel Survey. Dr. Byahut's research informs policy makers on the feasibility of using land use diversity and other land use characteristics for reducing household travel related emissions.

The research seminar was useful for the advanced graduate students as they developed a better understanding of the relationships between different land use characteristics and household travel at a regional scale, the application of advanced GIS tools in land use metrics, and the potential for travel demand management through compact and mixed use development.  Discussions also focused on the research evolution process starting from research imagination, identifying the research gaps, articulating research questions and selecting appropriate methodologies, to developing a longer term research agenda. The in-depth discussions also provided Dr. Byahut with several directions to take her research forward.