Lawrence Frank


Relevant Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
Evaluating how neighbourhood housing diversity relates with residential location choice, residential satisfaction and health (2016)

Urban planners have long advocated strategies that enable a broad spectrum of the population to live in their preferred communities. In particular, planning researchers emphasize the importance of enabling households with preferences for Smart Growth communities to match. Living in Smart Growth communities – characterized by higher densities, more mixed land uses, and better access to transport alternatives to the car - has been empirically linked with improved health, environmental and economic outcomes. One widely cited neighbourhood matching strategy is to increase the level of housing mix - or the diversity and distribution of different housing typologies within a neighbourhood - to permit households of lesser financial means to trade living space for an opportunity to live in their desired communities. However, no empirical study has investigated whether increased neighbourhood housing mix is associated with higher levels of neighbourhood matching in the population. The purpose of this dissertation is to evaluate the effectiveness of housing mix as a planning strategy. Using data obtained from a residential preference survey of 1,186 Vancouver area households, this project investigates the association between neighbourhood housing mix and the ability for households to match into their preferred neighbourhood type. The project also tests the association between neighbourhood match and neighbourhood satisfaction as well as the association between neighbourhood match and two measures of health: self-reported health status and body mass index (BMI). Neighbourhood match is defined two ways: based on a survey respondent’s subjective interpretation of their actual neighbourhood design compared to their preferences (i.e. “subjective match), and a comparison of the respondent’s survey-indicated preference versus an objective assessment of their community based on measurable features of the built environment (i.e. “objective match”). Findings reveal that housing mix only significantly predicts objective match, and significant associations are limited to owner-occupiers and respondents under the age of 60. Objective match is not a significant predictor of neighbourhood satisfaction or health. This dissertation concludes that housing mix is not an effective planning strategy for enabling households with Smart Growth preferences to live in their desired community.

View record

An examination of neighbourhood built and social environment influences on child physical activity patterns (2011)

Trends in increasing prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity, coupled withevidence that children engage in inadequate physical activity, have prompted considerableinterest in the study of correlates of child physical activity. The purpose of this thesis is toinvestigate potential influences of neighbourhood built and social environment characteristics onchild physical activity using data corresponding to two samples of children aged 8-11, attendingschools in Vancouver and the surrounding Lower Mainland region of British Columbia. Thisresearch benefits from the use of several complementary data sources, including: survey data on parent and child perceptions and travel behaviour; and, objective measures of physical activity and neighbourhood environment characteristics. A variety of analytical methods were used,including Generalized Estimating Equations to account for the clustering of students within schools resulting from a two stage sampling design. Objective measures of built environment characteristics were found to be significantlyassociated with average daily moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) when controllingfor age, gender, ethnicity and household income. These include measures of distance to school,commercial density and intersection density. Measures based on larger spatial units were foundto have the strongest associations with MVPA. When modeled as a composite built environment index these characteristics accounted for 5.0% of the variance in MVPA. This index was also significantly negatively associated with sedentary activity. In gender stratified models, different correlates were found for boys and girls, and overall built environment influences on MVPA were found to be stronger for boys than for girls. When controlling for the objective built environment index, neither parent nor child perceptions of safety contributed to explaining MVPA. The generalizability of specific results is limited by the sampling strategy used and alsobecause of unique characteristics of the Lower Mainland region. Nonetheless, many results areconsistent with findings of previous studies, providing further support for policies that promotecompact, mixed use developments with high street connectivity to support physical activity.Findings also point towards several important research implications, including the need tofurther study how best to define neighbourhoods for the purpose of assessing environmentalcharacteristics.

View record

Public transit use as a catalyst for an active lifestyle : mechanisms, predispositions and hindrances (2011)

In this thesis, I use the concept of a catalyst to analyze the relationships between transit use and measures of physical activity in neighborhoods with contrasting walkability and income levels. These analyses are preceded by an exploration of the long-term housing location preferences that enable people to live near transit, and ultimately to choose public transit.Three separate analyses using the Neighborhood Quality of Life Study (NQLS, 2002-2005; n=2199), provided by collaborators, form the core chapters of this thesis. The NQLS is a cross-sectional, matched community observational study of adults randomly sampled across 32 neighborhoods in Metro Seattle, WA and Baltimore, MD to compare behaviors of residents. Neighborhoods either had high or low median income and high or low walkability (4 neighborhood of each types in each cities). Causal mechanisms are explored, but cross-sectional data prevents concluding on causal relationships. In the first manuscript, the choice to use transit is analyzed in the context of long-term housing decisions. Some respondents wanting to locate near transit were not able to. Increasing housing opportunities near transit could improve the viability of using public transit, and support its potential health benefits.For public transportation to be considered a catalyst for physical activity, it must have a positive association independent of neighborhood walkability, car availability, and enjoyment of moderate physical activity. These issues are confirmed in the second manuscript. Transit commuters’ higher frequencies of utilitarian walking to destinations near the home and workplace is presented as a potential explanation for higher levels of physical activity.Additionally, active transportation time should not displace time used for leisure physical activity, and this relationship should hold whether transit users have access to an automobile (choice riders) or not (transit-dependent riders). This is confirmed in the third manuscript.In light of the active lifestyle benefits of public transit use, public health agencies may promote transit use through social marketing, and promote transit infrastructure development to policy-makers. Urban planners and transit agencies should consider the ability of households to locate near transit, and the lifestyle burden of transit-dependent riders, in order to promote healthier, inclusive and sustainable cities.

View record

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
A framework for estimating the effects of congestion pricing : moving towards full-user-pay road pricing (2015)

Road pricing has been touted by economists as a tool for financing infrastructure and curbing many of the problems associated with urban transportation such as congestion and pollution. This research establishes a framework for examining the effects of a Full-User-Pay (FUP-RPS), that is a system where road users pay the full cost incurred by driving that includes road maintenance as well as air, noise and water pollution. FUP road pricing scenarios were tested on Metro Vancouver in order to answer three questions: 1) How will an FUP-RPS affect different user groups by geography and transportation mode; 2) Which areas of a region can we expect to become more desirable or less desirable with a fully user pay road pricing system, and; 3) How will business and industry be affected in a FUP-RPS? Three FUP-RPS scenarios were tested, each one subsidizing transit differently.It was found that users of all modes in a FUP-RPS would benefit and that no transportation mode was favoured significantly. Although drivers would experience higher user fees in a FUP- RPS, they would also experience greater benefits in the form of reduced gas taxes and congestion. FUP road pricing also did not make urban areas more desirable than suburban ones. Finally, FUP road pricing was found to reduce the transportation costs for business and industry. The property tax and congestion savings were found to be greater than the anticipated Roadway Facility tolls and externality charges.

View record

Integrating goods delivery with electrical surface transit networks : the Trum strategy for urban freight transport in Vancouver and elsewhere (2012)

This thesis examines a way to integrate goods movement with Light Rail Transit (LRT) andtrolleybus networks used for public transit. In essence, this implies the use of a new concept vehicle todeliver goods within urban areas, named the Trum, for its hybrid nature between a truck and a tramway,that connects with electrical infrastructure also used to power surface transit vehicles. The approachtaken in this research is exploratory as its main objectives are to explore the challenges andopportunities related to such an integration, and to present the characteristics of the Trum, a newconcept vehicle on which this new approach is based.To grasp the possibilities of implementing such a system in a more tangible manner, the region ofVancouver is used as an example and a reference case throughout the thesis. The general researchquestion answered by this thesis is: could goods movement be effectively integrated with publictransport electrical network?Chapter 1 – Introduction sets the context that calls for the integration of goods and peopletransport, and explains the benefits of using a Trum system rather than vehicles powered withalternative technologies using natural gas, electric batteries or hydrogen fuel cells. Chapter 2 – FreightTransport examines trends and figures of goods movement at different levels of data aggregation.Chapter 3 – Unconventional LRT Uses presents examples non-conventional uses of tramway vehiclesby European cities that are using, or have used trams to transport goods within their urban areas.Chapter 4 – The Trum introduces the Trum, a concept vehicle compatible with LRT and trolleybusinfrastructure and intended for urban goods delivery, and compares the costs of trumming against thoseof trucking under different scenarios. Chapter 5 – Vancouver Trum City examines the potentialapplication of a Trum system in Vancouver and its implications for the electrification of TransLink`ssurface transit network. Chapter 6 – Conclusion summarizes the rationale articulated in the fivepreceding chapters and proposes policy measures that would help overcome implementation andoperational barriers to make Trum concept a reality.

View record


If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.


Learn about our faculties, research, and more than 300 programs in our 2021 Graduate Viewbook!