Geographies of walking: Examining how qualities of place correlate with users’ perceptions and levels of walking

Ms Tamara Bozovic1, Professor Erica  Hinckson1, Associate Professor Melody Smith nee Oliver2, Dr Moushumi Chaudhury1

1Auckland University Of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand

2The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand


The quality of the street environment is known to contribute to walkability but consensus on the nature of the deterrents remains elusive. We analysed Auckland Transport Active Modes 2016-18 survey data (ATAM, N=4,114) for correlations (Chi square test and Pearson’s coefficient) between perceived environmental characteristics and walking outcomes, within a Social Model of Walkability (SoMoW).

Results highlighted the importance of street quality for walking levels and satisfaction, overriding the availability of destinations, and informed aspects of the model. Important local potentials for walking were outlined: levels of walking are low, although 69% of able-bodied respondents who reported trips in the previous week saw walking as a reasonable alternative to car. Overall, 41% declared wanting to walk more. Quality of the street environment, including perceived barriers regarding safety and accessibility, was significantly associated with low levels of walking and low satisfaction with walking. Availability of destinations was not significantly correlated with low levels of walking and less strongly correlated with satisfaction than the examined elements of quality.

These findings contribute to health geography by providing new knowledge into ways how streets environments contribute to walking. They also provide decision support for design and retrofit.


Tamara Bozovic is a transport planner interested in ways urban transport systems contribute to liveability, inclusion, walking and health. Her focus and experience (Switzerland, Argentina, New Zealand) are on a systems approach for the retrofit of urban environments. She works on a PhD thesis examining through international and local evidence how the quality of streets environments contributes to difficulties of walking. The aim is to develop and inform a Social Model of Walkability and provide feedback to the practice (Auckland University of Technology, supervisors: Professor Erica Hinckson, Associate Professor Melody Smith nee Oliver, and Dr Moushumi Chaudhury).

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