Understanding associations between neighbourhood-environment perceptions and walking behaviour in low-tier Chinese cities

Ziwen Sun, Ni Kang, Iain Scott, Simon Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Somestudies indicate that analyses of neighbourhood environment perceptions and walkingbehaviour in relation to western models are ineffective or counterproductive inChinese cities, leading to calls for understanding walking behaviour morethrough the lens of specific contexts, such as how people in particularcultures and locations live, work and play differently. We aim to build onempirical and theoretical knowledge as to how built environment characteristicsaffect walking behaviour in low-tier Chinese cities.Methods: Amixed-methods field-work approach was employed by this study in Suihua (Hei-longjiangProvince, China) including an adapted version of the Neighbourhood Environment WalkabilityScale questionnaire (n = 187), on-site observation and face-to-face interviews.Multiple linear regression was used to analyse the associations of walkingduration with socio-demographic characteristics, walking motivations andneighbourhood environmental attributes across three age groups. Interviews andobservations were designed to further explore the walking associations througha local culture lens.Results andconclusion: Our results found that walking duration was positively associatedwith recreational motivation, but negatively associated with commercialrecreational amenities. The age-related associations of walking with the sameamenities differed (e.g., walking to Internet bars was negatively associatedwith middle-aged adults’ walking duration but positively associated withyounger adults). The findings from this study can inform planning policiesrelating to the design of walkable neighbourhoods in low-tier Chinese citiesincluding the consideration of age difference, the effect of weather variables,differing walking motivations, considerations around amenities for recreationalwalking (e.g., going to parks) and high-consumption recreational amenities(e.g., karaoke bars). It suggests that walking as a social behaviour requires culturaltailoring and should be re-examined in different local and cultural contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101806
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Transport & Health
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • walkability
  • walking behavious
  • local culture
  • built environment
  • age difference
  • small Chinese cities


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