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The development of a walkability index: application to the Neighborhood Quality of Life Study
  1. L D Frank1,
  2. J F Sallis2,
  3. B E Saelens3,
  4. L Leary4,
  5. K Cain2,
  6. T L Conway2,
  7. P M Hess5
  1. 1University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA
  3. 3University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
  4. 4Lawrence Frank and Company, Seattle, Washington, USA
  5. 5University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to L D Frank, School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, 231-1933 West Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z2; ldfrank{at}


Emerging evidence supports a link between neighbourhood built environment and physical activity. Systematic methodologies for characterising neighbourhood built environment are needed that take advantage of available population information such as census-level demographics. Based on transportation and urban planning literatures, an integrated index for operationalising walkability using parcel-level information is proposed. Validity of the walkability index is examined through travel surveys among areas examined in the Neighborhood Quality of Life Study (NQLS), a study investigating built environment correlates of adults' physical activity.

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  • Funding This work was funded in part by National Institutes of Health grant HL67350.

  • Competing interests None declared.

    Surveys and related documentation on the NQLS study are available for download from

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.