This study aimed to assess how the social distancing measures impacted the choice of walking as a transportation mode, environmental preferences for walking, and walking practice among urban residents in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. Data were collected through an online survey from September 21 to September 28, 2020, when the second level of social distancing measures was implemented; 2,112 participants aged 19 or older were included in the analysis. During COVID-19, the choice of walking as a means of transportation increased by 10.1%p, while the choice of public transportation decreased by 16.9%p. Environmental preferences for walking were more than moderate in neighborhood public open spaces, neighborhood streets, and riverside trails. Walking practice by purposes decreased significantly during COVID-19, especially in utilitarian walking. The study suggests that social distancing measures have a visible negative effect on walking practice among urban residents, as well as an invisible effect on perceived environment and choice of transportation mode in the metropolitan city. To break the physical inactivity habits established during COVID-19, guidelines for promoting walking should be developed, focusing on the frequency of walking practice. In the post-COVID-19 era, urban and transportation planning in metropolitan cities need to be reviewed focusing on the development of neighborhood assets related to walking and activation of active transportation.
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