Citation Walford N, Samarasundera E, Phillips J, Hockey A & Foreman N (2011) Older people's navigation of urban areas as pedestrians: Measuring quality of the built environment using oral narratives and virtual routes. Landscape and Urban Planning, 100 (1-2), pp. 163-168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2010.12.006
Abstract Studies of navigation and walkability of the outdoor built environment are now common. However, few have taken a ‘virtual’ approach and in this study we examine the qualitative oral narratives of forty-eight older people provided whilst they watched film footage of a journey around an unfamiliar, urban landscape, and compare them with quantitative measures of the built environment. Pre-film cognitive/psychological tests were carried out, and the participants filled out a questionnaire covering relevant issues such as feelings about home area and navigational behaviour. From the oral narratives we found that signage as well as the presence of historical and distinctive buildings to be central. There was little evidence that perception of residential (familiar) neighbourhood impacted upon commentary about the unfamiliar space suggesting the findings are generalisable to the wider senior citizen demographic and transferable to other localities. We propose a prototype index for urban landscape navigation from these findings.