Walkability and walking for transport: Characterizing the built environment using space syntax

Mohammad Javad Koohsari*, Neville Owen, Ester Cerin, Billie Giles-Corti, Takemi Sugiyama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Neighborhood walkability has been shown to be associated with walking behavior. However, the availability of geographical data necessary to construct it remains a limitation. Building on the concept of space syntax, we propose an alternative walkability index, space syntax walkability (SSW). This study examined associations of the full walkability index and SSW with walking for transport (WT). Methods: Data were collected in 2003-2004 from 2544 adults living in 154 Census Collection Districts (CCD) in Adelaide, Australia. Participants reported past week WT frequency. Full walkability (consisting of net residential density, intersection density, land use mix, and net retail area ratio) and SSW (consisting of gross population density and a space syntax measure of street integration) were calculated for each CCD using geographic information systems and space syntax software. Generalized linear models with negative binomial variance and logarithmic link functions were employed to examine the associations of each walkability index with WT frequency, adjusting for socio-demographic variables. Results: Two walkability indices were closely correlated (p=0.76, p<0.01). The associations of full walkability and SSW with WT frequency were positive, with regression coefficients of 1.12 (95% CI: 1.08, 1.17) and 1.14 (95% CI: 1.10, 1.19), respectively. Conclusions: SSW employs readily-available geographic data, yet is comparable to full walkability in its association with WT. The concept and methods of space syntax provide a novel approach to further understanding how urbandesign influences walking behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Nov 24
Externally publishedYes


  • Built environment
  • Space syntax
  • Street layout
  • Urban design
  • Urban form
  • Walkability
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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