While it makes sense to think that accessible public environments make walking or wheeling easier, it might not be the case that people with reduced mobility, or people using a wheelchair will actually get out and about more. Vijay Vasudevan at the University of Florida set about seeing if reduced physical barriers encouraged greater activity. To cut to the chase, here is an excerpt from the conclusions of this study on mobility disabilities and barriers to physical activity.
“When compared to people with disabilities living in a neighborhood that did not have accessibility improvements, people with disabilities living in a community neighborhood where accessibility improvements were made had higher frequency of walking and participated in a more activities (Hallgrimsdottir, Svensson, & Ståhl, 2015). This indicates that addressing accessibility can help increase physical activity levels.”
To read more about the study and the findings you can download the full paper, “An exploration of how people with mobility disabilities rate community barriers to physical activity”, published by the Californian Journal of Health Promotion.