Active commuting and perceptions of the route environment: a longitudinal analysis

Jenna Panter, Simon Griffin, David Ogilvie
Preventive Medicine 2014, 67: 134-40

OBJECTIVE: To assess associations between changes in perceptions of the environment en route to work and changes in active commuting.

METHODS: 655 commuters in Cambridge, UK reported perceptions of their commuting route and past-week commuting trips in postal questionnaires in 2009 and 2010. Associations between changes in route perceptions and changes in time spent walking and cycling, proportion of car trips, and switching to or from the car on the commute were modelled using multivariable regression.

RESULTS: Changes in only a few perceptions were associated with changes in travel behaviour. Commuters who reported that it became less pleasant to walk recorded a 6% (95% CI: 1, 11) net increase in car trips and a 12 min/week (95% CI: -1, -24) net decrease in walking. Increases in the perceived danger of cycling or of crossing the road were also associated with increases in car trips. Increases in the perceived convenience of public transport (OR: 3.31, 95% CI: 1.27, 8.63) or safety of cycling (OR: 3.70, 95% CI: 1.44, 9.50) were associated with taking up alternatives to the car.

CONCLUSIONS: Interventions to improve the safety of routes and convenience of public transport may help promote active commuting and should be evaluated.

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