Table 2: Challenges we encountered during the built environment assessment and proposed solutions for those to be overcome.

Environmental featureAssessment challengesProposed modifications

Segment slopeDiscerning “steep” from “moderate” slope.Dichotomize the feature as segment with elevation versus flat segment.
Curb cutsCurb cuts at alley-street intersections are unaccounted for.Record presence/absence of curb cuts at both street-alley intersections and street intersections.
TreesWhen quantifying trees with nonspecific identifiers (i.e., some/few/none), tree size and type will affect how they are categorized.Use two absolute categories: trees present versus trees absent.
Include park trees/trees in front yards of houses if large enough to give shade to sidewalks and protect from precipitation.
Street parkingParking rules vary depending on time of day and location.Include a variety of categories to cover all parking options: for example, free parking on streets, paid parking on streets, time-dependent parking (available only during some parts of the day), no street parking available.
Graffiti and litterGreater littering behavior noted during holidays. High potential for graffiti tags to be overlooked if not actively sought out.To increase reliability: for litter avoid assessments during days associated with increased waste production (holidays, community events).
For graffiti; training manuals should include probable graffiti locations (e.g., back of traffic signs, post office mail boxes), so that these are not overlooked.
Street lightingStreetlight coverage may vary between different segments of approximately the same length, resulting in a different “amount” of light available per segment.Quantify light: capture density of streetlights (number per given length of segment) or, alternatively, use a light meter to measure lighting of streets/sidewalks at night.
Golf courseCovers a large land area on multiple segments, but accessibility is limited to one or two entry points.If assessing access to a golf course, only entrance location should be noted, not other points of the area the course spans.
Food storesClassifying food stores which fall into multiple categories (e.g., meat shop that carries a selection of meats as well as other groceries).Classify according to most prevalent products: for example, if selection of groceries outweighs meat selection, classify as grocery store.
Resources allowing, record the types of food available rather than classifying the store itself to more accurately represent neighbourhood food availability.
Seasonal businesses and use of facilities/trailsExistent features that operate seasonally: some may be closed and inconspicuous during time of assessment (e.g., outdoor skating rink during summer assessments or farms selling one type of seasonal produce); others serve multiple functions which are season dependent (e.g., ski hills become hiking trails during summer).Record all available activities/facilities and businesses (where known) and assign special coding to specify they are season dependent.