Mapping dissonance: Associations with observed walkability, preference for walkable environments and walking for transport

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterScientific


Background Physical features of the local residential environment have the capability to support walking for transport as a part of residents’ daily habitual behavior. As suggested by ecological models of active living, increased contextual sensitivity should be applied for a fuller comprehension of individual health behavior in specific domains of physical activity such as walking for transport. Proceedings in public participation GIS (PPGIS) -based data collection provide new possibilities for a spatially and contextually sensitive analysis of self-reported everyday behavior in the local residential environment. Objectives This study develops a context-sensitive framework for assessing the likelihood of walking for transport. The analysis focuses on identifying associations between observed walkability of the local environment, individual preference for walkable residential environments, socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the respondent and walking to frequently visited maintenance, work, leisure and sport and active recreation destinations. Methods Cross-sectional survey data of young adults aged 25 to 40 living in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area (N = 962) was obtained through an Internet-based PPGIS survey in September 2016. In addition to home and workplace locations, the respondent used the survey tool to map frequently visited locations and the purpose of the trip. Favored travel mode and frequency of visit were also indicated for each location. Observed walkability of the residential environment was operationalized as a walkability index score calculated for the respondents’ home ranges, which were modelled individually to estimate environmental exposure in daily life. Cluster analysis was performed in order to identify distinct walkability preference profiles, followed by logistic regression analyses estimating the associations of walkability preference and observed walkability of the home range with odds of walking to marked destinations. Results After adjusting for demographic and socio-economic characteristics, the total number of frequently visited locations marked and the walkability of the home range, high preference for walkable residential environments was found to be significantly associated with higher odds of marking at least one destination with walking as the main travel mode (OR = 2.08, p = 0.012). The odds were also significantly increased for respondents with high walkable home ranges (OR = 2.95, p < 0.001), and significantly decreased for respondents living in a household belonging to the highest income category (OR = 0.51, p = 0.047). High preference for walkable residential environments increased the odds of walking to maintenance, leisure and sport destinations but had no association with walking to work. High observed walkability of the home range was associated with greater odds of walking to work, leisure and maintenance destinations. Additionally, high preference for walkable residential environments was found to be associated with higher odds of walking for transport for respondents residing in low-walkable environments (OR = 4.14, p = 0.003), while no statistically significant associations were observed between walkability preference and walking outcomes in high-walkable residential environments. Conclusions and implications for practice and policy The results implicate that walking for transport in the residential context is influenced by both intrapersonal characteristics and qualities of the built environment, indicating that both urban planning and attitude change interventions should be included in policies aiming to increase engagement in active travel in daily transport behavior. Moreover, modeling associations with walking outcomes by trip purpose as well within residential environments with varied observed walkability revealed contextual differences that should be accounted for while investigating associations between residential environments and behavioral outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 12 Feb 2018
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
EventActive Living Research Conference - Banff, Canada
Duration: 11 Feb 201814 Feb 2018


ConferenceActive Living Research Conference
Abbreviated titleALR

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