With the advent of ecological models, physical activity research now frequently incorporates built environment measures . While there is a clear cross-sectional association between built environmental characteristics and physical activity, the majority of research is conducted at the item level . Analysis of individual items ignores the potential underlying themes or constructs that may exist, particularly in perceptual measures. Further, item-level analysis precludes the use of multilevel modeling techniques that can account for the latent constructs inherent in measures of beliefs and attitudes .
Several scales exist that measure perceptions of the built environment for physical activity among adults [4–7]. However, little evidence is available regarding the validity or reliability of these measures. The most commonly reported measurement property is test-retest reliability . To date few studies report the construct validity, including factorial validity, of perceptions of the built environment for physical activity. Construct validity is necessary for operationalizing variables and making inferences. Factorial validity is a type of construct validity that applies to the structure of how latent, or underlying, constructs are measured using scales of multiple items. Each item on a scale should strongly relate to one latent construct and weakly relate to any other constructs being measured .
In 2005, Evenson and McGinn  developed a questionnaire for adults examining perceptions of the built environment for physical activity using the framework of Pikora et al  for perceptions around walking and cycling. The framework included the following physical environmental domains: destination, functionality, aesthetic, and safety. The destination feature relates to the availability of public and private facilities. The functionality feature reflects the physical attributes of the street and path that make up the fundamental structural aspects of the local environment, such as the type and width of the street and the volume, speed, and type of traffic. The aesthetic feature included both streetscape (e.g., trees, garden and street maintenance, cleanliness, pollution) and views (e.g., sights, architecture). The safety feature represents both personal safety and traffic safety. Item-level test-retest reliability was between 0.4 and 0.8 (intraclass correlation coefficients) among a sample of African American and White adults .
A recent examination of the psychometric properties of 26 items from this questionnaire in a separate sample of 479 White and African American adults, along with 21 items regarding convenience of physical activity facilities from Sallis et al. , revealed a five-factor structure  different than the Pikora et al  framework. The Convenience items formed one factor, while 16 items from the Evenson and McGinn  questionnaire produced four factors: Crime/Safety, Neighborhood Characteristics, Access to Physical Activity Facilities (referred to as Access), and Places of Worship . The internal consistency and scalability coefficients of these constructs indicated separate constructs. However, the sample size in this study and the relative homogeneity of the sample in terms of gender (86% female), race (68% White), 100% from four urban areas in South Carolina, and level of exercise (92% did not meet physical activity recommendations)  precluded further testing of construct validity. Measurement invariance means that the same latent construct is being measured across groups. If a measure is invariant by group membership there is evidence that the measure is not biased, and allows for mean comparisons of the latent constructs. Confirming the factor structure and testing the measurement invariance are the next steps in establishing validity and reliability for the new factor structure described in Gay and Smith .
Using self-reported built environment data collected on a diverse sample of adults, this paper had two aims: 1) to confirm the factor structure, reliability, and scalability of three of the five factors (Neighborhood Characteristics, Crime/Safety, and Access) found in Gay and Smith  by gender, race/ethnicity, physical activity level, and geographic location, and 2) to assess the test-retest reliability of these constructs. The Convenience and Places of Worship factors from the prior study were not tested since the confirmatory data did not contain the requisite items.