Introduction: Overall research problem: Walkability and transport walking studies are lacking in Europe. Walking has been analysed in relation to either the physical or social environment, with primacy for the first. Moreover, neighbourhood attachment seems to influence people’s engagement in activities (Comstock et. al, 2010), but no studies were found analyzing its contribute to everyday walking.

Research question: Is people’s reported walking intention and behaviour to neighbourhood specific destinations related to environmental – social and physical – attributes and personal characteristics, and may neighbourhood attachment explain this relation?

Theoretical background: This study is based on a model adapted from the Human Environment Interaction model (Küller, 1991), which explains the effect of social and physical environment on people. The concept of neighbourhood attachment was included in the study framework.

Context and participants: Inhabitants of a Swedish city (N=110) assessed their neighbourhood’s physical and social environment and reported walking intention and behaviour to get to destinations.

Instruments: Online survey including socio-demographic, residential and transport-related items. Physical and social environment were assessed with Perceived Residential Environmental Quality scales and neighbourhood attachment with Neighbourhood Attachment Scale (short versions; Fornara, Bonaiuto & Bonnes, 2010), validated for Swedish population in this study. Transport walking was assessed with items adapted from the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, Walkability Survey (Health by Design, 2009) and previous studies developed in the context under study (Lindelöw, work in progress; Johansson & Sternudd, work in progress).

Procedure: A link was sent by email for participants to access the survey.

Data analysis: Hierarchical regression analyses were run to assess to which extent physical and social environment predict walking intention and behaviour. Mediation analysis was used to explore if neighbourhood attachment explained the impact of environmental features on walking for destinations.

Intention to walk was explained by perceived density and proximity to schools, whereas women intended to avoid more walking, for security reasons. The amount of walking was predicted by perceived stimulation and length of residence in the place. Those attached to their neighbourhood walked for more time, but this emotional link did not mediate the environment’s impact on destination walking.

Transport walking was mainly affected by the built environment, but social features also explained it. Even though neighbourhood attachment did not mediate this relation, findings suggest it to be associated to everyday walking. Implications for further research and possible interventions will be discussed.

References

- Fornara, F., Bonaiuto, M., & Bonnes, M. (2010). Cross-Validation of Abbreviated Perceived Residential Environment Quality (PREQ) and Neighborhood Attachment (NA) Indicators. Environment and Behavior, 20 (10), 1-26.

- Küller, R. (1991a). Environmental assessment from a neuropsychological perspective. In: T. Gärling and G. W. Evans, (Eds.). Environment, Cognition, and Action (pp 78-95). New York: Oxford University Press.

- Comstock, N., Dickinson, L.M, Marshall, J.A., Soobader, M-J., Turbin, M.S., Buchenau, M. & Litt, J.S. (2010) Neighborhood attachment and its correlates: Exploring neighborhood conditions, collective efficacy and gardening. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30, 435-442.