The street level built environment and physical activity and walking: Results of a predictive validity study for the irvine minnesota inventory

Marlon G. Boarnet, Ann Forsyth, Kristen Day, J. Michael Oakes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The Irvine Minnesota Inventory (IMI) was designed to measure environmental features that may be associated with physical activity and particularly walking. This study assesses how well the IMI predicts physical activity and walking behavior and develops shortened, validated audit tools. A version of the IMI was used in the Twin Cities Walking Study, a research project measuring how density, street pattern, mixed use, pedestrian infrastructure, and a variety of social and economic factors affect walking. Both bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess the predictive value of the IMI. We find that while this inventory provides reliable measurement of urban design features, only some of these features present associations with increased or decreased walking. This article presents two versions of shortened scales-a prudent scale, requiring association with two separate measures of a physical activity or walking behavior, and a moderate scale, requiring association with one measure of physical activity or walking. The shortened scales provide built environment audit instruments that have been tested both for inter-rater reliability and for associations with physical activity and walking. The results are also useful in showing which built environment variables are more reliably associated with walking for travel-characteristics of the sidewalk infrastructure, street crossings and traffic speeds, and land use are more strongly associated with walking for travel, while factors that measure aesthetics are typically less strongly associated with walking for travel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-775
Number of pages41
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article: The original development of the Irvine Minnesota Inventory was supported by research grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Active Living Research program.

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • built environment
  • physical activity
  • walking


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