Older pedestrians’ perceptions of the outdoor environment in a year-round perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper focuses on older peoples’ needs as pedestrians by examining their perceptions of the outdoor environment in both bare-ground and snow/ice conditions. Qualitative and quantitative methods are used, including focus group interviews, participant observations, and questionnaires. The results show that older people consider accessibility/usability issues as very important and that the importance depends on such individual background variables as age, sex, occurrence of functional limitations, use of mobility devices, and dependence on walking as transport mode. In bare-ground conditions, physical barriers are more
important for the oldest old (80?) and for older people with functional limitations or mobility devices. However, orderliness-related issues (e.g. cyclists in pedestrian areas, lighting, and litter/graffiti) are equally important regardless of the background variables. In snow/ice conditions, ice prevention is considered more important than snow removal. Snow removal on a detailed level (e.g. removal of heaps of snow on pavements and zebra crossings) is emphasised. In conclusion, it is important to study subgroups, not older people as one group, in the analysis of accessibility/usability of outdoor environments. Further, even though those accessibility issues emphasised in current Swedish governmental directives
on accessibility are considered as important by older people themselves, especially among the oldest old and among those with functional limitations and mobility devices, the needs will not totally be fulfilled by current directives. For example, winter maintenance, problems with cyclists in pedestrian areas, and the need for benches are neglected.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Gerontology, specializing in Medical and Health Sciences


  • Year-round, Winter maintenance, Usability, Older people, Accessibility, Barrier-free design
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-290
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch

Related research output

Hanna Wennberg, 2009, Lunds universitet, Lunds Tekniska Högskola, Institutionen för Teknik och samhälle. 182 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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