This indicator captures community’s perception of environment as it relates to physical activity of children and youth, infrastructure (e.g. sidewalks, bike trails), as well as availability of playgrounds and parks for outdoor play. Some evidence is provided by Larouche et al. (2015), where a major Indian city, Bengaluru, was perceived to be relatively safe, walkable, and comprised of diverse destinations. However Bengaluru cannot be considered a representation of built environment across India, where there is wide variation in features of built environment between cities, towns and rural areas.
The Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (2011) conducted a comprehensive study of walkability in six Indian cities (Bhubaneshwar, Indore, Surat, Chennai, Pune, and Rajkot) using a variety of methods, including field surveys, pedestrian interviews (n=1900), as well as policy and institutional assessments. The study included a combination of small and large cities, which together are representative of cities across India. The main findings showed that although walking environment varied significantly between locations, overall, Indian cities had low walkability ratings due to poor and unsafe infrastructure, as well as lack of appropriate sidewalks.
Areas with large numbers of pedestrians (i.e., public transport terminals) received lower ratings than residential areas. A key determinant of walkability that is often not measured in Western countries is air pollution, which pedestrians identified as a barrier for walkability. This public perception is supported by the evidence that about 78% of 141 cities in India exceed the acceptable standard of particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure. More importantly, 90 cities reported critical levels, and 26 reported levels of PM2.5 exceeding the acceptable standard by three times. The policy and institutional assessments revealed that there is a lack of relevant policies, institutions, and political support for pedestrian needs.
While there is a clear indication of poor walkability in Indian cities, current data are insufficient to assess all the parameters required to grade built environment.
Community and Built Environment INC
The proportion of children, youth or parents who perceive their community as supportive for physical activity. The proportion of communities reporting physical activity policies and infrastructure (e.g. sidewalks, trails, bike lanes). The proportion of children and youth who report being outdoors for several hours daily, and reporting well-maintained facilities, parks, and playgrounds which are also safe.
The grade of incomplete (INC) indicates that there was insufficient information available to assess this indicator.
Why should we focus on the built environment?
Evidence indicates that safety, access to recreational facilities and opportunities for active transportation increase physical activity levels in children and youth. Recent evidence has revealed a more complex picture, where multilevel environmental determinants (urban design, neighbourhood built and social environment, school and home environment) have been shown to influence physical activity in children and youth. In terms of urban design, it has been shown that more than one type of design can facilitate active living.