Assessment of physical environment factors for mobility of older adults: A case study in Hong Kong

Barbara W.Y. Siu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


To cope with the challenges of increasing older adults residing in cities, the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced the “Age-Friendly City” framework in 2007 (World Health Organization, 2007). One of the main themes is accessible physical environment that has major impacts on mobility, independence and quality of life of older adults, and their ability to “age in place”. Mobility of older adults is conducive to their physical, emotional, and social wellbeing. Mobility patterns of older adults, how built environment impacts older adults' mobility have been well-studied by academics. These studies often required advanced research technique and substantial data collection; it is challenging to incorporate these study approaches into the Age-Friendly City (AFC) framework that emphasizes bottom-up participation of stakeholders. On the other hand, studies led by local stakeholders often relied too much on subjective data sources. To facilitate the formulation of strategies and action plans towards age-friendly city, a concise set of age-friendly city indicators needs to be developed: a set of indicators that has high objectivity but agrees well with subjective views of local older adults, that could be easily understood, and is easy to implement. This study piloted the adoption of the core indicators set proposed in “Measuring the age-friendliness of cities: a guide to using core indicators” (World Health Organization, 2015) in an old urban district in Hong Kong. This study focused on factors related to mobility: walking environment, public transport, and accessible public buildings and spaces. Objective assessments have shown generally high level of performance in these physical environment attributes; the subjective ratings by local older adults were found to have medium relationship to the respective objective indicators. However, the relationship is weak in the subdomains of “neighbourhood walkability” and “accessible public spaces and buildings”. It was found that the set of indicators is concise, easy to understand, and easy to implement. Yet, some refinements are suggested, such as: (1) include “affordability of public transport” in the indicator set, and (2) incorporate “quality of access” on top of “having a mean of access” into the objective indicators under “neighbourhood walkability” and “accessible public spaces and buildings”. The “input” resources and “output” facilities and services by the government and private sectors that have led to the age-friendly city “outcomes” reflected by the indicators are also introduced.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100370
JournalResearch in Transportation Business and Management
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Age-friendly city
  • Assessment
  • Objective indicators
  • Public transport
  • Subjective indicators
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Business and International Management
  • Transportation
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research

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