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PhD thesis defense

PhD defence: Yu Liu

PhD thesis defense — Yu Liu's PhD-defence


Date & Time:

Place: Auditorium Von Langen, Baghuset, Rolighedsvej 23, 1958 Frederiksberg

Hosted by:
Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Landscape Architecture, Planning and Society


Yu Liu defends his thesis,

Integrating green spaces and active mobility planning for urban green travel environments

Associate Professor Anton Stahl Olafsson, IGN, University of Copenhagen
Professor Thomas Beery, University of Southern Denmark
Assistant Professor Anne Margrethe Wagner, IGN, University of Copenhagen

Assessment committee:
Professor Jasper Schipperijn, University of Southern Denmark
Professor Åsa Ode Sang, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Professor, Gertrud Jørgensen, IGN, University of Copenhagen (Chair)

Cities offer many opportunities that attract people to reside in them. The way urban environment is planned not only shapes the way urban dwellers live, but further impacts their health, well-being, and quality of life. Rapid urbanization poses a wide range of challenges to individuals and society. Although these challenges are significant, they offer opportunities to rethink the critical role of planning for city and its infrastructure. Planning integrated urban infrastructures addresses complex challenges as it provides a wide range of synergetic benefits to both urban dwellers and the society in a boarder perspective of climate change, social inclusion, biodiversity loss, and so on. Planning integrated urban infrastructures requires a joint effort from the public, researchers, planners, politicians, and all related professionals.
This thesis explores active mobility and green space in an integrative manner. By integrating active mobility infrastructure and green spaces, conceptualized as urban green travel environments, two challenges can be overcome: physical inactivity and diminished nature connectedness. Applying a place-based approach and employing a PPGIS survey and semistructured interview, knowledge was collected from residents and planners to inform future planning of urban green travel environments.
This thesis understands green spaces as Third Places that can engage active mobility trips in various daily living activities with benefits to health, nicer travel experiences and social inclusion. Using knowledge from residents and planners, this thesis identifies two types of urban green travel environments: active mobility in green spaces and active mobility in green streets. It also highlights four key planning factors: infrastructure design and management, balance with other green space functions, collaboration, and people’s awareness. Two barriers to planning urban green travel environments were also identified, constrained budgets and limited space. The findings showed that people can be sensorial engaged in urban green travel environments through incidental nature experiences – mostly, aesthetic views – during shortcutting through green spaces. High tree cover density was found to contribute to a larger spectrum of incidental nature experiences. Further, frequent shortcutting through green spaces and higher level of nature connectedness is found to be positively correlated.
This thesis contributes to both fields of active mobility and green space planning in both practice and literature. Planning urban green travel environments offers many opportunities to individuals and society, while trade-offs should be carefully considered. The thesis shows an example of bringing together residents’ and planners’ knowledge to inform planning.
Seeking diverse forms of knowledge and emphasizing the interlinkages of urban infrastructures to bring synergetic benefits are recommended in urban planning practice. This drives a shift from a siloed and often professional-dominated planning system towards an integrated and collaborative one.

A digital version of the PhD thesis can be obtained from the PhD secretary at