URBAN DESIGN International

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 255–273 | Cite as

Perceptions and barriers to walking in the rural South of the United States: The influence of neighborhood built environment on pedestrian behaviors

Original Article


This article examined the relationship between neighborhood built environment and pedestrian behaviors in the rural US South, a setting that has rarely been the focus of previous pedestrian behavior research. It used surveys administered to six neighborhoods in Starkville, Mississippi, a rural/small-town in the South, with a 38.5 per cent response rate and a total of 362 household participants. The study compared walking behavior between traditional neighborhoods built before WWII, early conventional suburban neighborhoods built around the 1970s and late conventional suburban neighborhoods built around the 1990s. The results indicated that aesthetics is the most important perceived neighborhood characteristic that encourages walking, but social environment as a perceived walking barrier discourages walking. Nevertheless, residents’ perceived neighborhood characteristics and neighborhood barriers, as well as their associations with walking differ across the three neighborhood types. This study provided insights into the neighborhood design features and their interplay with the social environment that affects walking in a rural/small-town context.


neighborhood built environment pedestrian behavior rural/small-town 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Landscape ArchitectureMississippi State UniversityStarkvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural EconomicsSociology, and Education, Population Research Institute, and Social Science Research Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University ParkPAUSA

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