Walking and cycling have Increased in U.S. but remain at low levels

May 6, 2011
Bicyclists at Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Photo by John Pucher.

(Medical Xpress) -- A new study led by a Rutgers researcher and published in the American Journal of Public Health reports a significant increase in walking between 2001 and 2009 in the United States, but only slight growth in cycling.

John Pucher, a professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and , headed the team from Rutgers, Virginia Tech and the University of Sydney that presented its findings, ” and in the , 2001-2009: Evidence from the National Household Travel Surveys (NHTS).”

Using data from the 2001 and 2009 surveys to compute the frequency, duration and distance of walking and cycling per capita, the researchers found that the average American made 17 more walk trips in 2009 than in 2001, covering nine more miles per year, as compared with just two more bicycle trips and five more miles of cycling. Population-weighted person and trip files were merged to calculate prevalence of any walking and cycling, and of walking and cycling at least 30 minutes per day. While the prevalence of “any walking” in the population remained unchanged, walking at least 30 minutes per day increased from 7.2 percent to 8.0 percent. The prevalence of “any cycling” in the population remained at 1.7 percent, and the prevalence of “30 minute cycling” remained at 0.9 percent.

Changes in active travel between 2001 and 2009 were not equally distributed across population subgroups, Pucher explained. “Active travel declined for women, children and seniors, but increased among men, the middle-aged, the employed, the well-educated, and persons without a car,” he said. “That suggests important problems of social inequities in active travel.”

In designing the right mix of policies, it is important to target women, children and seniors, who are the most vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists and require special attention to protect them from the dangers of motor vehicle traffic, the authors concluded. “Improved infrastructure for walking and cycling should be combined with educational and promotional programs to help encourage the necessary behavior change toward a more active lifestyle,” the authors wrote.

The analysis confirmed the important role of in encouraging active travel. With 90 percent of all public transport trips involving walk trips at both ends, policy packages for encouraging active travel should include safe and convenient pedestrian access to public transport stops. Cycling also has the potential to be an important access mode to public transport, the researchers found.

The article was published on May 5 by the under “First Look”. It will appear in the October Supplement 2011 print issue of the journal.

Explore further: Physical activity by stealth NOT health

More information: www.ajph.org/first_look.shtml

Related Stories

Physical activity by stealth NOT health

April 7, 2011
The Government sees active travel to work as a convenient way of building activity into lifestyle and an important public health strategy. A new study suggests that transport plans aimed at reducing car usage should be considered ...

Recommended for you

Americans misinformed about smoking

August 22, 2017
After voluminous research studies, numerous lawsuits and millions of deaths linked to cigarettes, it might seem likely that Americans now properly understand the risks of smoking.

Women who sexually abuse children are just as harmful to their victims as male abusers

August 21, 2017
"That she might seduce a helpless child into sexplay is unthinkable, and even if she did so, what harm can be done without a penis?"

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.