Street connectivity and walking for transport: role of neighborhood destinations

Mohammad Javad Koohsari, Takemi Sugiyama, Karen Elaine Lamb, Karen Villanueva, Neville Owen
Preventive Medicine 2014, 66: 118-22

OBJECTIVE: Built environment attributes may be important determinants of physical activity. Greater street connectivity has been shown in several studies to be associated with adults' walking for transport (WFT). We examined the extent to which this association can be explained by the availability of utilitarian destinations.

METHODS: Adults (n=2544) participating in the Physical Activity in Localities and Community Environments (PLACE) study in Adelaide, Australia during 2003-2004, reported their WFT and perceived distances to 16 utilitarian destinations. Connectivity was calculated as the ratio of the number of intersections to Census Collection District land area. Marginal models via generalized estimating equations were used and the product-of-coefficients test was used to test mediation effects.

RESULTS: Connectivity was significantly associated with destination availability and with WFT frequency. The connectivity-WFT relationship was attenuated after taking availability of destinations into account, but remained significant. Availability of destinations accounted for 16% of the total effect of connectivity on WFT.

CONCLUSIONS: Higher connectivity can be associated with more frequent WFT, partly because more utilitarian destinations are available in areas with well-connected street networks. Further clarification of these relationships and other pathways through which connectivity influences residents' walking can inform urban design initiatives to promote physical activity.

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