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People and their walking environments: an exploratory study of meanings, place and times

People and their walking environments: an exploratory study of meanings, place and times

Chan, Eric T. H. ORCID: 0000-0001-9611-0949, Li, Tingting Elle ORCID: 0000-0002-8054-933X, Schwanen, Tim ORCID: 0000-0001-7376-5854 and Banister, David (2020) People and their walking environments: an exploratory study of meanings, place and times. International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, 15 (9). pp. 718-729. ISSN 1556-8318 (Print), 1556-8334 (Online) (doi:

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Seen as the most sustainable transport mode, people’s walking has been well investigated in relation to its environmental correlates and benefits to physical and mental well-being in current transportation and public health literature. Much of this research has considered that environmental features determine people’s responses, behaviors and level of satisfaction. Nonetheless, more scholars begin to argue that people’s responses to environments could be highly complex, depending on personal background, past experiences and emotional interpretation of the place. The meanings that people attach to their walking practices may differ by personal, social and cultural contexts, which consequently influence how they perceive and experience their walking environments. The transferability of westernized understandings of walking to other developing cities, thus, is questionable, and will need to be examined empirically. This study focuses on a rapidly developing Chinese city, and explores how pedestrians in Shenzhen respond to the walking environment through their articulation of walking practices. Through analyzing life stories of twenty local residents, three interrelated themes emerged to highlight the significance of meanings attached to walking, engagements with timescapes and attachment to place, illustrating how these themes were entangled with walking experiences. Insights from this study will enable future studies to reconceptualise the relationship between pedestrians and their environments as a more dynamic process which should take into consideration the temporalities of the walking environment and pedestrians’ bodily and emotional capacities.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: built environment, meaning, place attachment, temporality, urban China, walking experience
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Systems Management & Strategy
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2021 15:10

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