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Walk Score™ As a Global Estimate of Neighborhood Walkability

      Background

      Walk Score recently has been demonstrated as a valid and reliable tool for estimating access to nearby facilities, a critical component of the physical activity environment. It has not yet been determined whether Walk Score relates to other critical components of the physical activity environment, including street connectivity, access to public transit, residential density, and crime.

      Purpose

      The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between Walk Score and objective/subjective measures of the physical activity environment.

      Methods

      Walk Scores were calculated for residential addresses of 296 participants of two RCTs (2006–2009). Street connectivity, residential density, access to public transit provisions, and crime were objectively measured (GIS) and cross-referenced with Walk Scores and participant's perceptions of the environment (e.g., perceived crime, access to physical activity facilities, perceived neighborhood walkability). Pairwise Pearson correlations were calculated in March 2010 to compare Walk Score to subjective/objective measures of neighborhood walkability.

      Results

      Significant positive correlations were identified between Walk Score and several objective (e.g., street connectivity, residential density and access to public transit provisions) and subjective (e.g., summed score of the physical activity environment) measures of the physical activity environment. However, positive correlations also were observed between Walk Score and crime.

      Conclusions

      Collectively, these findings support Walk Score as a free, easy-to-use, and quick proxy of neighborhood density and access to nearby amenities. However, positive associations between Walk Score and reported crime highlight a limitation of Walk Score and warrant caution of its use.
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