Improving walking conditions for older adults. A three-step method investigation
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEuropean Journal of Ageing. 2015, 12 (3), 249-260. 10.1007/s10433-015-0340-5
The benefits of walking are widely recognized. In this regard, the Norwegian government has urged local authorities to develop walking strategies. The aim of such strategies is to influence a local walking culture and framework conditions for pedestrians. Older citizens are an important focus group because what is an accessible environment for them can be attractive for all groups. The primary aim of this study is to improve our understanding of how physical, social and individual factors affect whether older groups perceive that they need, can and want to walk. Second, we show how a mixed-method approach for collecting data gives an important input when planning a walking strategy. Combining quantitative and qualitative data gave deeper insights into how elders perceived their walking environment. The three steps (survey, participatory observation and workshop) made it possible to involve elders and practitioners from the municipality and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration directly in the study. This gave first-hand experience about how to facilitate the environment for older pedestrians. The findings suggest that the need, can and want dimensions of walking interact and reinforce each other. We find that measures affecting more than one such dimension seem to provide the best response for walking activity. This can be important for practitioners to take into consideration when developing good walking areas in the city.