241382 Assessing walkability using structured observation of the built environment by community volunteers: Are Los Angeles Neighborhoods walkable?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 8:30 AM

Malia Jones, MPH , School of Public Health, Department of Community Health Sciences, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Hsin-Chieh Chang, MSPH , Department of Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Background: “Walkable” urban neighborhoods promote walking for leisure/exercise, enhance daily physical activity, and facilitate social interactions among residents. Assessing walkability of the urban context with systematic social observation can be an opportunity for raising community involvement and proposing policy interventions to local governments. Methods: The Pedestrian Environmental Quality Index (PEQI) is a structured observational measure of urban walkability including five dimensions: intersection safety, traffic, street design, perceived safety, and land use. We performed an on-the-ground implementation of the PEQI with adaptations specifically for the Los Angeles context. We trained >30 community volunteers who collected data on every street and intersection in one neighborhood of Los Angeles. Walkability scores were computed and a Geographical Information System was used to generate maps of general walkability and specific issues such as sidewalk repair, litter and graffiti. Results: We succeeded in modifying the PEQI for LA, and in engaging community members on walkability and physical activity. Our target neighborhood exhibited acceptable walkability overall, but some major streets were identified as poor performers. Key problem areas included: litter, poor sidewalk condition, lack of wheelchair accessibility, and lacking crosswalks at some key intersections. We presented findings including priorities for policy change to local neighborhood councils and other government bodies. Conclusions: The PEQI required significant modification for the Los Angeles urban context, but our modifications were easy and successful. This project was highly successful in engaging community members and highlighting local problems in walkability for policy intervention. Work on new crosswalks and litter cleanup began in 2009-2010.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
- List 5 domains of walkability as assessed by the Pedestrian Environmental Quality Index - Assess the walking environment of a demonstration neighborhood in Los Angeles, CA - Identify uses for systematic social observation of the walking environment in other contexts

Keywords: Urban Health, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present this work because I oversaw the design and implementation of all aspects of the work.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.