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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

A Theoretical Model for Urban Walking Among People With Disabilities

Marcheschi, Elizabeth; Ståhl, Agneta; Almén, Mai; Johansson, Maria


This paper is an attempt to advance research on walking at a neighborhood level of analysis for people with disabilities by proposing a theoretical model that combines the knowledge of two disciplines: traffic planning and environmental psychology. The aim is to provide guidance for a discussion and a plan for future interdisciplinary investigations by proposing a model that accounts for the dynamic interaction between environmental characteristics, human processes, and walking experience among individuals with a disability. For this purpose, traffic planners, and environmental psychologists came together to discuss theories, concepts, and thematic relevance in a series of focus group meetings. These meetings led to the selection of the Human Environment Interaction (HEI) model, originally developed from the field of environmental psychology and operationalized to describe how walking experiences result from the interplay between individual abilities, emotional processes, and the physical and social characteristics of the environment (Kuller, 1991). The proposed model aims to sustain interdisciplinary discussion and research planning around the topic of neighborhood walking for people with disabilities. By operationalizing each dimension in the model, a good fit between groups with disabilities and individual differences associated with walking experiences is assumed, which, in turn, will have the potential to provide a more conscious analysis of wellbeing-related outcomes, such as usability of the environment, frequency of mobility, and quality of life. However, to improve understanding of urban walking at a neighborhood level for people with disabilities, empirical studies must be carried out to test the proposed model.


urban walking; people with disabilities; theoretical model; environmental psychology; traffic planning

Published in

Frontiers in Psychology
2020, Volume: 11, article number: 156

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities
    SDG10 Reduced inequalities

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Applied Psychology

    Publication Identifiers


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