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Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2010 Mar 12;7:20. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-7-20.

Neighborhood sampling: how many streets must an auditor walk?

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  • 1Texas Obesity Research Center, Department of Health and Human Performance, University of Houston, 3855 Holman St, Garrison Gymnasium Rm 104, Houston, TX 77004, USA.


This study tested the representativeness of four street segment sampling protocols using the Pedestrian Environment Data Scan (PEDS) in eleven neighborhoods surrounding public housing developments in Houston, TX. The following four street segment sampling protocols were used (1) all segments, both residential and arterial, contained within the 400 meter radius buffer from the center point of the housing development (the core) were compared with all segments contained between the 400 meter radius buffer and the 800 meter radius buffer (the ring); all residential segments in the core were compared with (2) 75% (3) 50% and (4) 25% samples of randomly selected residential street segments in the core. Analyses were conducted on five key variables: sidewalk presence; ratings of attractiveness and safety for walking; connectivity; and number of traffic lanes. Some differences were found when comparing all street segments, both residential and arterial, in the core to the ring. Findings suggested that sampling 25% of residential street segments within the 400 m radius of a residence sufficiently represents the pedestrian built environment. Conclusions support more cost effective environmental data collection for physical activity research.

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