Light Rail Use is More Likely on Walkable Blocks: Further Support for Using Micro-Level Environmental Audit Measures

Werner, C., Brown, B., & Gallimore, J. (2009). Light rail use is more likely on walkable blocks: Further support for using micro-level environmental audit measures. Journal of Environmental Psychology, XX(X) (available online), 1-9.

The primary purpose of the study was to address the claim that people are more likely to walk to a transit stop if they live on a “walkable” block. An additional purpose was to evaluate the Irvine Minnesota Inventory (IMI) as an environmental audit tool. The IMI was used to measure walkability features of 19 blocks in a revitalizing neighborhood. We hypothesized that residents who walked to a light rail TRAX stop (n = 22) would live on blocks with higher walkability ratings compared to residents who did not walk to TRAX (nonriders, n = 15), or who walked only after a closer TRAX stop was built (new users, n = 11). A MANCOVA indicated the IMI scales differentiated the blocks; the strongest differences were obtained in subscales that measured the block's diversity, safety from crime and density (marginally significant). Participants' perceptions of their complete walk to the transit stop were consistent with the home block IMI scores, with the continuing riders having more positive views than the other two groups. The results show the ability of the IMI to distinguish among blocks in walkability, and support further use of this audit tool in environmental analyses and active living research. We end with a discussion of conceptual and methodological issues in the use of audit tools and provide recommendations for using these measures for local, immediate interests, as well as for building a broader science of environmental measurement.

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