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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(11), 1061;

Using Virtual Street Audits to Understand the Walkability of Older Adults’ Route Choices by Gender and Age

University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH3 9DF, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Marcia G. Ory and Matthew Lee Smith
Received: 30 August 2016 / Revised: 3 October 2016 / Accepted: 21 October 2016 / Published: 28 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aging and Health Promotion)
Full-Text   |   PDF [287 KB, uploaded 31 October 2016]


Walking for physical activity can bring important health benefits to older adults. In this population, walking has been related to various urban design features and street characteristics. To gain new insights into the microscale environmental details that might influence seniors’ walking, details which might be more amenable to change than neighbourhood level factors, we employed a reliable streetscape audit tool, in combination with Google Street View, to evaluate the ‘walkability’ of where older adults choose to walk. Analysis of the routes selected by a purposive sample of independently mobile adults aged 65 years and over living in Edinburgh, UK, revealed a preference to walk in more walkable environments, alongside a willingness to walk in less supportive settings. At times, factors commonly considered important for walking, including wayfinding and legibility, user conflict, kerb paving quality, and lighting appeared to have little impact on older adults’ decisions about where to walk. The implications for policy, practice, and the emerging technique of virtual auditing are considered. View Full-Text
Keywords: older adults; built environment; physical activity older adults; built environment; physical activity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Brookfield, K.; Tilley, S. Using Virtual Street Audits to Understand the Walkability of Older Adults’ Route Choices by Gender and Age. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 1061.

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