Assessing and Qualifying Neighborhood Walkability for Older Adults: Construction and Initial Testing of a Multivariate Spatial Accessibility Model

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Feb 5;19(3):1808. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19031808.


Population aging and urban development pose major challenges for societies today. Joining the literature assessing urban accessibility, the present exploratory research developed a multivariate accessibility model based on four independent variables-related to formal and structural urban space-that influence walkability for older adults (pedestrian network; facilities and shops; public benches; and slopes and gradients). The model used ArcGIS software. For the accessibility calculations, we selected two suburban neighborhoods in the conurbation of Grenoble (France) and selected three types of older adults' profiles to reflect the variety of aging: an older adult in good health, an older adult with a chronic disease, and an older adult with reduced mobility. The results suggest that the accessibility of a neighborhood depends not only on its physical and urban characteristics, but it is also influenced by the physical and health characteristics of its inhabitants. The originality of the model lies mainly in its ability to estimate the spatial accessibility of a territory by taking into account, firstly, objective data such as the physical characteristics and the built environment of the neighborhood through objectification variables that consider such original variables as the presence of benches or the slopes and gradients and, secondly, specific data such as the physical and/or health characteristics of the study population. The measurement of geospatial accessibility could be of great value for public health in urban contexts, which is why relevant tools and methodologies are needed to objectively examine and intervene in public spaces in order to make them age-friendly.

Keywords: accessibility; geographic information systems; older adults; spatial accessibility model; walking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Built Environment
  • Environment Design
  • France
  • Humans
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Walking*