Borst, H. C., Miedema, H. M. E., de Vries, S. I., Graham, J. M. A., & van Dongen, J. E. F.
Borst, H. C., Miedema, H. M. E., de Vries, S. I., Graham, J. M. A., & van Dongen, J. E. F. (2008). Relationships between street characteristics and perceived attractiveness for walking reported by elderly people. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 28, 353–361. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2008.02.010
Walking is important for the health of elderly people. Previous studies have found a relationship between neighbourhood characteristics, physical activity and related health aspects. The multivariate linear regression model presented here describes the relationships between the perceived attractiveness of streets for walking along and (physical) street characteristics. Two hundred and eighty-eight independently living elderly people (between 55 and 80 years old) participated in the study. Street characteristics were assessed along homogeneous street subsections defined as ‘links’. Positively related to perceived attractiveness of links were the following street characteristics: slopes and/or stairs, zebra crossings, trees along the route, front gardens, bus and tram stops, shops, business buildings, catering establishments, passing through parks or the city centre, and traffic volume. Litter on the street, high-rise buildings, and neighbourhood density of dwellings were negatively related to perceived link attractiveness. Overall, the results suggest that three main aspects affect perceived attractiveness of streets for walking, namely tidiness of the street, its scenic value and the presence of activity or other people along the street. The results are discussed within the context of these three aspects.
This research explores the relationship between the physical characteristics of streets and how elderly people perceive them in terms of attractiveness. Design aspects perceived as attractive for walking include walking sections through parks. Other physical aspects associated with perceived attractiveness include the presence of shops, catering establishments, businesses, bus and tram stops, "zebra crossings," front gardens, trees, and slopes and/or stairs. However, litter, density, and high rise buildings are negatively associated with attractiveness.
Description of method used in the article
Mail survey of elderly residents (N = 288, ages 60-80) from three districts of the city of Schiedam, the Netherlands. The survey contained (a) a general survey about street characteristics; (b) seven 1-page diary entries to record the date, time, duration, etc. of specific walks; and (c) a detailed street map to indicate which sections of streets they consider attractive. Eligibility requirements for participants: (a) at least 60 years old, (b) live alone, and (c) receive no in-home help. Responses were compared against physical characteristics of street sections ("links") as recorded by hired researchers. Analysis consists of Pearson univariate correlation between attractiveness perceptions and street characteristics, then entered into a multivariate model.
Of some practical use if combined with other research