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Snow and Rain Modify Neighbourhood Walkability for Older Adults

  • Philippa Clarke (a1), Jana A. Hirsch (a2), Robert Melendez (a3), Meghan Winters (a4), Joanie Sims Gould (a5), Maureen Ashe (a5), Sarah Furst (a6) and Heather McKay (a5)...

The literature has documented a positive relationship between walkable built environments and outdoor mobility in older adults. Yet, surprisingly absent is any consideration of how weather conditions modify the impact of neighbourhood walkability. Using archived weather data linked to survey data collected from a sample of older adults in Vancouver, Canada, we found that car-dependent neighbourhoods (featuring longer block lengths, fewer intersections, and greater distance to amenities) became inaccessible in snow. Even older adults who lived in very walkable neighbourhoods walked to 25 per cent fewer destinations in snow. It is crucial to consider the impact of weather in the relationship between neighbourhood walkability and older adult mobility.

La littérature a documenté une relation positive entre la mobilité à l’extérieur chez les personnes âgées et les environnements bâtisables et marchables. Cependant, étonnamment, toute considération de la façon dont le temps modifie l’accessibilité piétonnière à travers les quartiers est absente. À Vancouver, au Canada, on a utilisé des données météorologiques archivées liées à des données recueillies auprès d’un échantillon d’aînés. On a constaté que, lorsqu’il neige, les quartiers où l’on dépend d’automobiles (comportant des blocs plus longs, moins d’intersections et une plus grande distance aux commodités) sont devenus inaccessibles. Même les adultes plus âgés qui vivaient dans les quartiers qui étaient très bien adaptés au traffic pietonnier marchait à 25 pour cent moins de destinations pendant la neige. Il est essentiel de tenir compte de l’impact des conditions météorologiques dans la relation entre la marchabilité des quartiers et la mobilité des personnes âgées.

Corresponding author
La correspondance et les demandes de tire-à-part doivent être adressées à : / Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to: Philippa J. Clarke, Ph.D. Institute for Social Research University of Michigan 426 Thompson Street Ann Arbor, MI 48104 <>
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This research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) grant 117651, AAM-108607. Jana Hirsch received support from the Population Research Training grant (T32 HD007168) and the Population Research Infrastructure Program (R24 HD050924) awarded to the Carolina Population Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Career award support for Maureen Ashe came from the CIHR and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

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Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement
  • ISSN: 0714-9808
  • EISSN: 1710-1107
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