Assessing Walking and Cycling Environments in the Streets of Madrid: Comparing On-Field and Virtual Audits
Audit tools are useful for exploring the urban environment and its association with physical activity. Virtual auditing options are becoming increasingly available potentially reducing the resources needed to conduct these assessments. Only a few studies have explored the use of virtual audit tools. Our objective is to test if the Madrid Systematic Pedestrian and Cycling Environment Scan (M-SPACES) discriminates between areas with different urban forms and to validate virtual street auditing using M-SPACES. Three areas (N = 500 street segments) were selected for variation in population density. M-SPACES was used to audit street segments physically and virtually (Google Street View) by two researchers in 2013–2014. For both physical and virtual audits, all analyzed features score significantly different by area (p < 0.05). Most of the features showed substantial (ICC = 0.6–0.8) or almost perfect (ICC ≥ 0.8) agreement between virtual and physical audits, especially neighborhood permeability walking infrastructure, traffic safety, streetscape aesthetics, and destinations. Intra-rater agreement was generally acceptable (ICC > 0.6). Inter-rater agreement was generally poor (ICC < 0.4). Virtual auditing provides a valid and feasible way of measuring residential urban environments. Comprehensive auditor training may be needed to guarantee good inter-rater agreement.
KeywordsPhysical activity Validation studies Urban environment Omnidirectional image Virtual image
Google Street View
Systematic Pedestrian and Cycling Environmental Scan
New Zealand Systematic Pedestrian and Cycling Environmental Scan
Madrid Systematic Pedestrian and Cycling Environmental Scan
Heart Healthy Hoods
Intraclass correlation coefficient
- 3.WHO. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2011.Google Scholar
- 18.Charreire H, Mackenbach JD, Ouasti M, et al. Using remote sensing to define environmental characteristics related to physical activity and dietary behaviours: a systematic review (the SPOTLIGHT project). Health Place. 2013; 25C: 1–9.Google Scholar
- 32.Kazepov Y. Cities of Europe: changing contexts, local arrangement and the challenge to urban cohesion. Oxford, United Kingdom: Wiley; 2005.Google Scholar
- 34.Censo de Población y viviendas. Resultados municipales Madrid. Instituto Nacional de Estadística. 2011. http://www.ine.es/censos2011_datos/cen11_datos_resultados.htm. Accessed 11/19/2013.
- 39.Pikora T. SPACES instrument: observers manualGoogle Scholar
- 41.DeVellis RF. Scale development: theory and applications. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications; 2003.Google Scholar