Measuring perceptions of social environments for walking: A scoping review of walkability surveys

Nicole Iroz-Elardo, Arlie Adkins, Maia Ingram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The neighborhood pedestrian environment is an important determinant of physical activity and health. Despite widespread acknowledgment that neighborhoods' social and physical characteristics contribute to a walkable place, constructs and metrics remain focused primarily on the built environment. This scoping review documents the current state of the practice to measure perceived social elements of pedestrian environments in order to identify measurement strategies to understand and support walking, particularly in socially diverse neighborhoods. We identified 20 survey instruments focused on pedestrian environments, walkability, or physical activity at the local (neighborhood) scale and designed to capture residents' perceptions of outdoor walking environments. Across the 20 instruments, we identified and categorized 182 distinct items that measured social environments into four domains (social capital, personal safety, physical signifiers, and general neighborhood descriptors) and thirteen subdomains. Many items emphasized negative social elements, such as crime and disorder. Only a few items focused on community identity. Most instruments cover some aspects of the social environment well, but few provide a holistic inventory of the social environment across domains and subdomains. We also observe that the state of the practice seems frozen, with most instruments in use having originated in 2010 or earlier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102468
JournalHealth and Place
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Walkability
  • perceived instruments
  • personal safety
  • social capital
  • social environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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