There are many ways to assess the built environment. Below are examples of different scan and audit tools that evaluate the physical design of a community’s walking environment by collecting information on sidewalk availability, road volume, and amount of shade. They can help identify specific issues or barriers to safe and desirable walking routes. Additionally, audits inform stakeholders on potential solutions to encouraging safe access to street networks.
Rapid Environmental Scan Tool (REST)
The Harris County Public Health Built Environment and Health Impact Assessment (HCPH BE-HIA) Unit developed the REST which was adapted from the Pedestrian Environmental Data Scan (PEDS).1 REST collects data at the street segment level on pedestrian, bicycle, and drainage infrastructure, and a Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates for certain street elements and traffic control devices (e.g., bus stops, stop signs, pedestrian crossing signals). The REST field data can then be linked to a geospatial streets dataset and layered with socioeconomic data to form baseline maps of the walking environment. For additional training protocol and materials, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Resources for Scan and Audit Tools
Active Living Research outlines a variety of audit and scan tools that measure the built environment. Most of these tools are more comprehensive and useful for researchers.
American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and Create the Good both have easy-to-use resources for community-driven built environment or walking audits.
AARPWalk Audit Tool Kit
Create the Good Sidewalks and Streets Survey
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidance on what a large employment center can do to increase physical activity in the work setting through conducting a walk audit.
Houston-Galveston Area Council’s (H-GAC) Pedestrian Evaluation Tool assesses the safety, comfort, and convenience of street segments and intersections.
1. Clifton, Kelly J., Livi Smith, Andrea D., & Rodriguez, Daniel. “The Development and Testing of an Audit for the Pedestrian Environment,” Journal of Landscape & Urban Planning, 80(1-2), 2007. pp. 95-110.
Retrieved from http://planningandactivity.unc.edu/RP1.htm