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    photo of
    Noreen McDonald
    Associate Professor & Chair; Director, Carolina Transportation Program
    108 & 317 New East
    work919.962.4781 (phone)
    fax919.962.5206 (fax)
    My work focuses on travel behavior and addresses cross-cutting policy questions in the fields of planning, education, and public health around youth and young adult mobility and community design.

    Detailed Website



    PLAN 636: Urban Transportation Planning

    PLAN 720: Planning Methods

    PLAN 739: Transportation Modeling

    PLAN 823: Workshop Research and Practice (Bike Planning at UNC Chapel Hill)


    My research highlights connections between transportation, education, and health policy. My work has documented sharp declines in walking to school and a commensurate rise in driving between 1969 and 2009. Half of the decline in walking to school between 1969 and 2001 is attributable to increases in the distance to school and the remainder to changing attitudes and demographics. My research explores both pathways by examining how school siting policies and household attitudes to convenience and safety have impacted the rise in driving to school.

    I'm currently working on several projects including:

    • investigating how early travel influences later behavior by analyzing longitudinal data on teenagers.
    • analyzing the travel of young adults, i.e. the millennial generation, to understand the potential transport and energy impacts.
    • assessing the multi-modal costs of school transportation.

    Selected Publications

    Complete list of publications

    McDonald, N. 2015. Are Millennials Really the ‘Go Nowhere’ Generation? Journal of the American Planning Association 81(2): 90-103. [Request Article]

    McDonald, N., R. Steiner, C. Lee, T. Rhoulac Smith, X. Zhu, Y. Yang. 2014. Impact of the Safe Routes to School Program on Walking and Bicycling. Journal of the American Planning Association 80(2): 153-167. [Request Article]

    McDonald, N., D. Salvesen, R. Kuhlman, T. Combs. 2014. The Impact of Changes in State Minimum Acreage Policies on School Siting Practices.  Journal of Planning Education and Research 34(2): 169-179. [Request Article]

    McDonald, N., P. Barth, R. Steiner. 2013. Assessing the Distribution of Safe Routes to School Program Funds, 2005-2012. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 45(4): 401-406. [Request Article]

    McDonald, N., Y. Yang, S. Abbott, A. Bullock. 2013. Impact of the Safe routes to School Program on Walking and Biking: Eugene, Oregon Study. Transport Policy 29: 243-248. [Request Article]

    McDonald, N., A. Brown, L. Marchetti, and M. Pedroso. 2011. U.S. School Travel 2009: An Assessment of Trends. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 41(2): 146-151. [Request Article]

    McDonald, N. 2010. School Siting: Contested Visions of the Community School. Journal of the American Planning Association 76(2): 184-198. [Request Article]

    McDonald, N. and A. Aalborg. 2009. Why Parents Drive Children to School: Implications for Safe Routes to School Programs. Journal of the American Planning Association 75(3): 331-342. [Request Article]

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