Pikora, T., Giles-Corti, B., Bull, F., Jamrozik, K., & Donovan, R. (2003). Developing a framework for assessment of the environmental determinants of walking and cycling. Social Science & Medicine, 56(8), 1693-1703.
The focus for interventions and research on physical activity has moved away from vigorous activity to moderate-intensity activities, such as walking. In addition, a social ecological approach to physical activity research and practice is recommended. This approach considers the influence of the environment and policies on physical activity. Although there is limited empirical published evidence related to the features of the physical environment that influence physical activity, urban planning and transport agencies have developed policies and strategies that have the potential to influence whether people walk or cycle in their neighbourhood. This paper presents the development of a framework of the potential environmental influences on walking and cycling based on published evidence and policy literature, interviews with experts and a Delphi study. The framework includes four features: functional, safety, aesthetic and destination; as well as the hypothesised factors that contribute to each of these features of the environment. In addition, the Delphi experts determined the perceived relative importance of these factors. Based on these factors, a data collection tool will be developed and the frameworks will be tested through the collection of environmental information on neighbourhoods, where data on the walking and cycling patterns have been collected previously. Identifying the environmental factors that influence walking and cycling will allow the inclusion of a public health perspective as well as those of urban planning and transport in the design of built environments.