How does the seasonality influence utilitarian walking behaviour in different urbanization settings in Scotland?

Soc Sci Med. 2016 Aug;162:143-50. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.06.024. Epub 2016 Jun 16.


The relationship between the built environment and walking has been analyzed for decades. However, the seasonality effects on the relationship between the built environment and walking have not been well examined even though weather is one of the key determinants of walking. Therefore, this study used 2007-8 Scottish Household Survey data collected over two years and estimated the interaction effects between the urbanization setting (i.e., residential locations: urban, town and rural areas) and seasons (i.e., spring, summer, autumn and winter) on walking. Scottish Urban-rural classification scheme is measured based on the population and access to large cities, and used as a key independent variable. The number of walking days for specific purposes such as work or shopping (utilitarian walking) during the past 7 days is used as a dependent variable. The results show that there are significant geographical variations of seasonality effect on utilitarian walking. That is, people living in rural areas are more sensitive to seasonality impacts than those living in urban areas. In addition, we found that the association between urbanization setting and utilitarian walking varies across seasons, indicating that their relationship can be miss-estimated if we ignore the seasonality effects. Therefore, policy makers and practitioners should consider the seasonality effects to evaluate the effectiveness of land use policy correctly. Finally, we still find the significant association between the urbanization setting and utilitarian walking behaviour with the consideration of seasonality effects, supporting the claim of New Urbanism.

Keywords: Built environment; Continuous household survey; Seasonality; Walking.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Environment Design / standards*
  • Environment Design / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Scotland
  • Seasons*
  • Temperature
  • Travel / psychology
  • Travel / statistics & numerical data
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Walking / psychology*
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data
  • Weather