A European perspective on GIS-based walkability and active modes of transport

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Background: The association between GIS-based walkability and walking for transport is considered to be well established in USA and in Australia. Research on the association between walkability and cycling for transport in European cities is lacking. The aim of this study was to test the predictive validity of established walkability measures and to explore alternative walkability measures associated with walking and cycling for transport in a European context. Methods: Outcome data were derived from the representative cross-sectional survey (n = 843) ‘Radfreundliche Stadt’ of adults in the city of Graz (Austria). GIS-based walkability was measured using both established measures (e.g. gross population density, household unit density, entropy index, three-way intersection density, IPEN walkability index) and alternative measures (e.g. proportion of mixed land use, four-way intersection density, Graz walkability index). ANCOVAs were conducted to examine the adjusted association between walkability measures and outcomes. Results:Household unit density, proportion of mixed land use, three-way intersection density and IPEN walkability index were positively associated with walking for transport, but the other measures were not. All walkability measures were positively associated with cycling for transport. Conclusion: The established walkability measures were applicable to a European city such as Graz. The alternative walkability measures performed well in a European context. Due to measurement issues the association between these walkability measures and walking for transport needs to be investigated further.

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