Identifying destination distances that support walking trips in local neighborhoods

Key takeaway:

  • The researchers examine the relationship between distance of destinations and frequency of walking trips to figure out the threshold distances that best promote walking. They find that daily living destinations located within 401 – 800m (1/4 to ½ mile) from people’s homes best encourage walking.


  • A best practice approach to designing walkable communities has been to create the “400m neighbourhood,” which locates shops and services within a walkable distance of 400m (¼ mile or approximately 5 minutes walk from residences.
  • The researchers introduce donut-buffers as a method of counting destinations between 401 – 800m (to ½ mile) and 801 – 1200m,  (½ to ¾ mile) as opposed to standard network buffers that count distances of 400m (¼ mile), 800m (½ mile), and 1200m (¾ mile), in order to get more specific measurements of destination distances and better understand threshold distances for walking. Donut-buffers warrant further research to inform urban planning policy guidelines.
  • People most likely to take over four walking trips per week are: females, people aged 45 or over, those with secondary or other education levels, those not in the labor force, and single adults without children.
  • The odds of walking four or more trips per week increased when local food outlets (i.e., supermarkets, cafes, takeaway stores, and small food stores) and transport stops were located within 401 – 800m (¼ to ½ mile), but not 801 – 1200m (½ to ¾ mile). This finding suggests that destinations required for daily living, such as local food outlets, should be located at distances between 401m and 800m to encourage walking trips.
  • People were more likely to walk to destinations if there was a mixture of activities at their destinations (i.e., shopping, sports destinations, and dining).



  • The researchers used data from the cross-sectional multilevel Victorian Lifestlye and Neighborhood Environment Study that was collected in 2003 from 2349 adult participants in Australia.


Gunn, L.D.; King, T.L.; Mavoa, S.; Lamb, K.E.; Giles-Corti, B.; Kavanagh, A. (2017). Identifying destination distances that support walking trips in local neighborhoods. Journal of Transport & Health, 5. 

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