Title: Improving walkability in Catalonia through a participatory and empowerment model

Authors: Albert Juncà; Judit Bort-Roig; Joan Carles Martori; Anna Puig-Ribera

Addresses: Physical Activity and Sports Research Group, Centre for Health and Social Care Research, University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia, Spain ' Physical Activity and Sports Research Group, Centre for Health and Social Care Research, University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia, Spain ' Data Analysis and Modeling Research Group, University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia, Spain ' Physical Activity and Sports Research Group, Centre for Health and Social Care Research, University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia, Spain

Abstract: Promoting walking and walkable communities is a priority to reduce the burden of physical inactivity-related ill health. A participation-action project and empowerment model - composed by three phases - was used to design and evaluate the impact of tailored strategies to improve paths walkability in three Catalan middle-size towns. In phases I and II focus groups with stakeholders and citizens identified local needs and weaknesses towards promoting walkability and explored perceptions on how to improve it. In phase III, strategies addressing local walkability were developed, implemented and evaluated. Based on findings from focus groups, low-cost physical and communicative initiatives were implemented: clearing the paths; improving cleaning, the width and greenery of the paths; and doing communication campaigns through signalling the paths. A significant increase in path users (+5.95%) was observed after implementation. This is a valuable model for creating walkable communities tailored to specific contextual and cultural needs.

Keywords: participatory model; social environment; built environment; active living community; paths; walkability.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSSOC.2019.10025346

International Journal of Sustainable Society, 2019 Vol.11 No.2, pp.108 - 124

Received: 07 Feb 2018
Accepted: 12 Mar 2019

Published online: 18 Nov 2019 *

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