Active Transport

Active Transport         
Prepared by  Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, Australian Sports Commission
evaluated by  Evaluation by: John Armstrong, Executive Officer, Pedal Power ACT; Duane Burtt, Senior Walkable Communities Advisor, Victoria Walks Inc. (January 2016)
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 17 July 2017     
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Introduction

Walking and cycling are popular activities that can take many different forms, including: leisure-time activity, exercise and fitness, recreation, sport, and walking or cycling used as a mode of transport. Active transport refers to unassisted travel (walking) or non-motorised (bicycle) transportation with an intended destination. There is a great deal of overlap or synergy between walking and cycling used as active transport and similar activity intended for social, recreational, and health outcomes.  

Active transport has many demonstrated benefits – personal (health and fitness), social (community connectivity), environmental (reduced carbon footprint) and economic (infrastructure costs). 


Key Messages 

1

Walking and cycling used as a mode of transport can contribute to personal health and fitness objectives.

2

Engaging in active transport can have positive economic, environmental and social outcomes.

3

Active transport is one of the most effective means of increasing levels of physical activity within a community.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 14% of adult males and 25% of adult females participate in walking as a recreational or exercise activity; the percentage of the adult population who cycle, 8.5% (males) and 4% (females) is much less. Among children, age 5 to 14 years, the estimated participation rate of bike riding is 70% for boys and 57% for girls. Walking as a specific recreational activity among children was not directly surveyed, although it’s reasonable to expect that walking activities are integrated into various forms of play.  

  • Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation, Australia, 2013-14, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4177.0 (2015). Data from the general social survey is used to identify the participation rates for adults, age 15 years and older, in a number of organised and unorganised physical activities.
  • Sports and Physical Recreation: A statistical overview, Australia, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4156.0 (2012). This publication presents an overview of the sport and physical recreation sectors. It contains information about the number of people engaged in sport and recreational activities and the time spent on activities.

More recent data on the popularity of walking and cycling activities is available in the Australian Sports Commission’s AusPlay survey report (see the table 'Most Popular Activities for Australians', p.14). More information can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topic, Sport Participation in Australia.

Walking  

According to the National Heart Foundation of Australia, the number of children walking to school has halved over the past forty years. This has coincided with a rise in the rate of childhood overweight and obesity and declines in the average fitness level of children. [source: Move it: Australia’s healthy transport options]  

More information can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topic, Childhood Obesity.  

Among adults, walking is the most commonly reported form of recreational activity in Australia, and this is also the case worldwide. Although the physical and psychological benefits of walking are well known, many surveys indicate a decline in the frequency and amount of walking done by both children and adults in many countries, including Australia. As background for the preparation of the NSW Walking Strategy, a review of literature found these key considerations regarding programs aimed at promoting walking:  

  • Enhancing walking behaviour (for recreational and transport purposes) is best achieved with an integrated package of interventions that consider the physical environment, education of participants, and creating community engagement. No single intervention or area of focus will be sufficient.
  • A culture of walking is most likely to be established when mass media campaigns target community perceptions about walking, addressing safe and attractive walking environments.
  • Creating supportive settings for walking in urban and suburban environments may require changes to present patterns of land use and planning in Australian cities and towns. The greatest challenge will be in altering existing urban forms.
  • Perceptions about the ‘walkability’ of communities will have an influence on the distances individuals are willing to walk.
  • Lifelong transport behaviours are formed during childhood. Supporting children’s activity, particularly walking as a means of transport to/from school, should be a public priority.
  • Strategies to support children’s walking to school are most likely to be successful when they simultaneously target parents’ travel behaviour and perceptions, as well as improving the existing urban environment.

Among mature-age adults walking has been identified as one of the best sources of physical exercise.  Walking has also been shown to improve overall mental wellbeing among seniors.

Large-scale physical activity data reveal worldwide activity inequality. Tim Althoff et.al., Nature, (published online 10 July 2017). The study looked at data from smartphones with built-in accelerometry to measure physical activity at the global scale. The dataset consisted of 68 million days of physical activity for 717,527 people, giving a window into activity in 111 countries across the globe. It found significant inequality in how activity is distributed within countries and that this inequality is a better predictor of obesity prevalence in the population than average activity volume. Reduced activity in females contributed to a large portion of the observed activity inequality. Aspects of the built environment, such as the walkability of a city, were associated with a smaller gender gap in activity and lower activity inequality. In more walkable cities, activity was greater throughout the day and throughout the week, across age, gender, and body mass index (BMI) groups, with the greatest increases in activity found for females. These findings have implications for global public health policy and urban planning and highlight the role the built environment can have in reducing physical activity inequality and  improving general physical activity and health. 

Physical activity and mental well-being in a cohort aged 60–64 years (PDF  - 235 KB), Black S, Cooper R, Martin K, Brage S Kuh D and Stafford M, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 49, Number 2 (2015). This study investigated the associations between physical activity in the form of walking for pleasure with mental wellbeing in a large sample of men and women age 60–64 years. The results showed that participation in walking for pleasure was associated with higher levels of mental wellbeing. Associations were robust when adjustment for gender, long-term limiting illness, educational attainment, financial status, work status, and personality were considered.

Senior Victorians and walking: obstacles and opportunities: Summary Report (PDF  - 1.1 MB), Garrard J, Victoria Walks and the Council on Aging (COTA), Victoria (2013). Walking is particularly important for seniors, who are less likely than younger adults to participate in more vigorous forms of physical activity, more likely to experience social isolation, and less likely to drive a car. Walking is highly valued by seniors for a range of reasons including improved health, wellbeing, independence, personal mobility and social connectedness. For people aged 75 years and over, walking comprises 77% of the total time spent on physical activity. This report presents a summary of a literature review which suggests that making the environment more walkable (for both seniors and the general population) relies upon:  

  • residential density, with good pedestrian access;
  • street connectivity;
  • an aesthetically pleasant environment;
  • quality walking infrastructure;
  • proximity to desired locations, shops, services, and public transport;
  • perceptions of safety;
  • well-positioned and well-designed road crossings, and;
  • traffic calming road design in residential areas and limitations on car parking.

Change in walking for transport: a longitudinal study of the influence of neighbourhood disadvantage and individual-level socioeconomic position in mid-aged adults, Turrell G, Hewitt B, Haynes M, Nathan A and Giules-Corti B, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 11 (2014). Data from the HABITAT longitudinal study of over 11,000 residents of Brisbane neighbourhoods examined three questions; (1) which socio-economic groups walk for transport; (2) does the amount of walking change with age, and; (3) is the change socio-economically patterned? Respondents from disadvantaged neighbourhoods had a significantly lower incidence of walking. Walking was correlated with education, members of lower income households walked less. Walking for transport declined with age across all socio-economic groups, but the decline was steeper for retired members of low income households. The authors concluded that designing age-friendly neighbourhoods might slow or delay age-related declines in walking frequency. Steeper declines in walking among residents of low income households may reflect their poorer health status and the impact of adverse socioeconomic exposures over the life course. Each of these declines represents a significant challenge to public health advocates, urban designers, and planners in their attempts to keep people active and healthy in their later years of life.

Are we developing walkable suburbs through urban planning policy? Identifying the mix of design requirements to optimise walking outcomes from the ‘Liveable Neighbourhoods’ planning policy in Perth, Western Australia (PDF  - 1.6 MB), Hooper P, Knuiman M, Bull F, Jones E and Giles-Corti B, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 12 (2015). This study is the first to have empirically identified a mix of specific and distinguishing planning policy neighbourhood design requirements that optimise walking outcomes. Using cluster analysis four distinct groups of housing developments were identified: (1) disconnected developments; (2) connected and compacted developments; (3) green developments, and; (4) liveable developments. Overall, liveable communities performed best in encouraging walking for recreation and transport. These developments had the best levels of compliance with community design elements related to access to neighbourhood centres and a diversity of destinations. They were also served by the greatest number of bus routes and services and had the highest number of parks. These developments also performed reasonably well on the implementation of the movement network requirements and in particular they had the best levels of external connectivity (i.e., the greatest number of external access points per km along the development perimeter) and the best provision of trees along the footpath networks. These findings will assist in the assessment of urban plans for suburban developments designed to promote walking and physical activity.

Cycling  

Cycling, as a physical activity, appeals to a wide range of ages for different reasons. Among Australian children, bicycle riding is the most popular form of non-organised recreational activity. Cycling is a popular form of active transport to school as well as a means of active transport to work for adults.  

Australian Cycling Participation: Results of the 2017 National Cycling Participation Survey (PDF  - 1.4 MB), Austroads and the Australian Bicycle Council, Austroads Publication Number AP-C91-17 (2017). Results of the national survey are published biennially by Austroads. The data suggests that 15.5% of Australians ride a bicycle in a typical week, and that 34.1% have done so during the past year. These figures represent a statistically significant decline from the 2011 survey data of 18.2% (weekly) and 40.2% (within the past year). They reflect a gradual decline shown in both the 2013 and 2015 surveys. [Note: the 2013 and 2015 survey results are included in the 'Reports' section of this portfolio.]

Active travel to school, 2012 survey findings (PDF  - 612 KB), National Heart Foundation Australia (2012). During 2012 the National Heart Foundation, in collaboration with the Cycling Promotion Fund, conducted an online survey with a random sample of 1,005 Australian parents having school-aged children. The survey captured the parents’ attitudes toward their child’s bike riding habits to and from school. A number of key findings from this survey include:

  1. Parents associate children riding a bike to school with a range of advantages; from the positive impact riding can have on their child’s health, to the role it can play in promoting their child’s independence.
  2. Ninety per cent of parents agreed that cycling is a good way to get fit, and that it is important for children to learn to ride a bicycle.
  3. Whilst 70% of parents surveyed thought it was important for their child to be able to independently ride a bike, close to half did not believe that it was safe for them to ride a bike to school.
  4. There are some clear barriers to children riding a bike to school, 80% of parents surveyed agreed that there is too much traffic on the roads and not enough bike paths for children to cycle safely to school. The reasons parents gave for not allowing their children to ride a bike to school are generally centred on safety concerns.
  5. Close to 60% of parents surveyed drove their children to school.
  6. Parents surveyed indicated that they would be more likely to let their children ride a bike to school if safety (dangers posed by traffic and other road users) was improved.

Cycling, as a form of active transport, greatly extends the range of distance travelled for commuting purposes, when compared to walking. Because cycling also promotes personal health benefits and provides benefits to environmental sustainability and reduced road congestion, it’s a planning and policy option for governments that can impact upon urban planning, health, public transport, environmental sustainability, and the economy. The goal of increasing the number of persons using cycling as a means of active transport, particularly within urban environments, will have multi-dimensional benefits. 

Positive health outcomes are associated with increased physical activity. Active transport is one of the most effective means of increasing regular physical activity, thereby reducing many long-term health risks. A number of major reports and research from Australia and other nations, support this position. Positive health outcomes can also be achieved through improvements in environmental conditions (air quality). The sum of all health outcomes resulting from active transport will also have an economic impact on individuals and the population. 

  • Active commuting and obesity in mid-life: Cross-sectional, observational evidence from UK Biobank, Flint E and Cummins S, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, Volume 4, Issue 5 (2016). This study gathered information from a large sample, 72,139 men and 82,788 women aged 40 to 69 years, to measure commuting method (divided into seven categories to reflect levels of physical exertion), body mass index (BMI), and percent body fat. A number of social and health factors were recorded and controlled in the statistical analysis; these were: income, education, residence, alcohol consumption, smoking, leisure physical activity (including recreational walking), occupational physical activity, general health, and limiting illness or disability. The results indicated that active commuting was significantly and independently associated with reduced BMI and percentage body fat for both men and women, with a graded pattern apparent across the seven commuting categories. Both cycling and walking commuters (both genders) have significantly lower BMI and body fat compared to their car-only commuting counterparts. Similarly, compared with car-only commuters, mixed public transport and active commuters had lower percentage body fat. This study shows robust, independent associations between active commuting and healthier bodyweight and composition.
  • Active commuting from youth to adulthood as a predictor of physical activity in early midlife: the Young Finns Study (abstract), Yanga X, Telamaa R, Hirvensalob M, Tammelina T, Viikaric J and Raitakarid O, Preventive Medicine, published online (4 November 2013). The aims of this study was to describe the stability of active commuting behaviour (i.e., walking and cycling) over a 27 year period and examine the relationship between active commuting and other physical activity from youth to midlife. After 12 years, active commuting was positively associated with higher physical activity levels in both men and women. Active youth who maintained this behaviour, whether walking or cycling various distances, predicted greater physical activity as adults; compared with passive commuters. The study concluded that walking and cycling to school or work should be encouraged, as this behaviour is associated with higher levels of physical activity over 27 years of follow-up, and may contribute to a healthy and active lifestyle throughout the life-course.
  • Active transport: Children and young people, An overview of recent evidence (PDF  - 1.2 MB), Garrard J, VicHealth (2009). In recent decades, substantial changes in Australian lifestyles, urban environments, and transportation systems have changed physical activity patterns among children. Active transport has declined dramatically in Australia, where car travel has become the predominant form of personal mobility. This report provides a summary of evidence showing that children who actively commute to school have higher levels of physical activity and improved cardiovascular fitness compared with children who do not walk or cycle to school.
  • Cycling and urban air quality: A study of European experiences (PDF  - 6.85 MB), Hitchcock G and Vedrenne M, European Cyclists’ Federation (November 2014). Transport emissions, and hence air quality, is influenced by many factors; such as vehicle technology, fuel type, vehicle size and driver behaviour. A reduction in emissions through existing technologies may be insufficient to meet proposed air quality targets. Therefore, addressing the demand-side of transport by increasing the number of persons using active transport and the frequency of use, will make a substantial contribution to air quality and public health. This report explores the role that cycling can have as part of package of strategies to help improve air quality. This study found that adopting cycling investment strategies that produce about 20% increase in the number of cyclists, could lead to significant reductions in nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and black carbon emissions; although there were differences between and within the five cities studied. These results show that there is no simple relationship between cycling measures and improvements in air quality, as the exact relation is very dependent on local conditions. However, the introduction of strategies to increase cycling, as part of a wider package of measures to reduce road traffic, will show significant improvements in air quality which generates health benefits for the population.
  • Epidemiology of cycling for recreation in Australia and its contribution to health-enhancing physical activity, Titzea S, Meromb D, Risselb C and Baumanb A, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, published online (26 September 2013). This study examined data from the Exercise, Recreational and Sport Survey (ERASS) for the years 2001-2009 to determine if recreational cyclists met recommended physical activity guidelines. It found that almost two thirds of those participating in recreational cycling met the guidelines and concluded that cycling is a plausible way to accumulate sufficient health-enhancing physical activity. Since the majority of recreational cyclists do not cycle in organised rides, a targeted approach is needed to fully exploit the potential of recreational cycling for public health benefits.
  • Health impact assessment of active transportation: A systematic review (abstract), Mueller N, Rojas-Rueda D, Cole-Hunter T, de Nazelle A, Dons E, Gerike R, Gotschi T, Panis L, Kahlmeier S and Nieuwenhuijsen M, Preventive Medicine, Volume 76 (July 2015). Walking and cycling for transportation (i.e. active transportation, AT) provide substantial health benefits from increased physical activity (PA). However, there are risks of injury from exposure to motorized traffic and their emissions (i.e. air pollution). The objective of this study was to systematically review studies that looked at the associated health benefits and risks of a mode shift to AT. Thirty studies met the analysis criteria, originating predominantly from Europe, but also the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Despite different methodologies being applied and different assumptions, AT was shown to provide substantial net health benefits, irrespective of geographical context.
  • Is there evidence that walking groups have health benefits? A systematic review and meta-analysis, Hanson S and Jones A, British Journal of Sports Medicine, published online 19 January 2015. A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted of published intervention studies using a walking group to increase physical activity. The analysis looked at the differences in commonly used physiological, psychological and well-being outcomes between baseline and intervention end. Forty-two studies were identified that included 1843 participants. Meta-analysis showed statistically significant reductions in mean difference for systolic and diastolic blood pressure, resting heart rate, body mass index, total cholesterol, and mean increases in VO2max. There was also a reduction in depression scores. The evidence was less clear for other outcomes such as waist circumference, fasting blood glucose, and serum lipids. There were no notable adverse side effects reported in any of the studies. The authors concluded that walking groups are effective and safe with good adherence and wide-ranging health benefits and serve as a proactive health-promoting activity.
  • Move it: Australia’s healthy transport options (PDF  - 2.98 MB), National Heart Foundation Australia (2014). This report makes ten recommendations to the Australian Government that aim to boost walking and cycling and improve access to public transportation.
  • Moving Australia 2030: a transport plan for a productive and active Australia. The Moving People 2030 Taskforce is comprised of 8 national organisations. The Taskforce has released a comprehensive report to Federal, State and Territorial Governments on how to deliver a prosperous, sustainable, liveable and healthy Australia by 2030.  Chapter 6 of the report, ‘A Healthy and Active Australia’, outlines an active travel strategy that includes walking and cycling. The strategy has the potential to reduce urban congestion and carbon emissions, while benefitting the health of the nation.
  • Walking Works, de Moor D, The Ramblers (2013). That’s the conclusion of an extensive review of literature, produced by the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support (United Kingdom). ‘Walking for Health’, England’s largest network of health walk schemes, has accumulated evidence suggesting that walking brings people together, helps them feel positive, and is a cost-effective way to exercise. Health risks from obesity can be complex, but the solution may be as simple as more people walking more often.

More information can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topics: Preventive Health, Sport and Physical Activity and Physical Activity Guidelines.   

Active Healthy Kids Australia (AHKA) is a collaboration of physical activity researchers from across Australia working toward a common interest – increasing the physical activity levels of all young Australians. The vehicle used to help increase awareness and drive this need for change is the Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young People. The Report Card synthesises the best available Australian evidence in order to assign grades to physical activity indicators, and provides a national snapshot of the current levels of physical activity in Australian children and young people. AHKA released its first Report Card in 2014 as part of a ‘Global Matrix’ of grades comparing 14 countries from around the world. The first Report Card asked the question, “Is Sport Enough?” The second Report Card (2015) suggested that the decline of ‘Active Transport’ among young Australians may contribute to Australia’s poor record of physical activity. The third Report Card suggests that Australian children need to acquire 'Physical Literacy' skills to have the necessary 'tools' to support an active lifestyle. More information can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport under the topics, Childhood Obesity and Physical Literacy and Sport.  

  • Active Healthy Kids. The Road Less Travelled: 2015 progress report card on active transport for children and young people (PDF  - 3.4 MB), Active Healthy Kids Australia (2015). Australian school children have received an ‘average’ C grade when it comes to active transport to-and-from school. Only about half of Australia’s children walk, ride, scoot or skate to school at least once per week. A survey conducted by the University of South Australia showed that 45% of children aged 5-6 years and 47% of children aged 9-10 years used active travel to/from school. The rate increased to 59% among high school students. The survey disclosed these reasons for the low rate of active transport:
    • Safety – ‘stranger danger’ and road traffic safety are concerns of many parents.
    • The distance kids are willing or allowed to travel – the distance children can or will navigate on their own has dramatically declined compared to that of past generations.
    • Family and home life – families are smaller, meaning there are fewer siblings to ride or walk to school with. More families now have two working parents, as well as two cars; with time pressures being a large factor in the rate of school drop-off among working parents.
    • Location – schools are further away from concentrated residential communities. More children go to a school of choice rather than a local school and small schools have been amalgamated into super schools.

A study commissioned by the Queensland Government in 2011 found that, for a typical off-road path in an inner urban area, economic benefits per kilometre walked or cycled in terms of reduced motor vehicle congestion is 20.7 cents per kilometre and vehicle operating cost savings are 35 cents per kilometre. The health benefit is up to $1.68 per kilometre. In addition, the infrastructure savings for road maintenance was 6.8 cents per kilometre and environmental saving (reduced carbon footprint) was 5.9 cents per kilometre. The aggregate result is that for every 1000 pedestrians per day, economic benefits of around $7 million are generated per kilometre of walking path, and for every 1000 cyclists per day the benefits are around $15 million per kilometre of cycling path. [source: Walking, riding and access to public transport, Australian Government, Department of Infrastructure and Transport, 2013, p6]  

  • Business performance in walkable shopping areas (PDF  - 2.96 MB), Hack G, Active Living Research, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2013). Walkable commercial districts are a key component of communities that promote active living. This report examines whether there are also economic benefits to businesses in walkable communities. A meta-analysis of 70 studies and articles was conducted and the author conducted an exploratory study of 15 walkable shopping areas that were judged as successful to examine the sources of success. The evidence seems to suggest that walkable retail areas are increasing in popularity and will likely grow over the next several decades because 45% of daily trips, on average, are made for shopping and routine errands. Encouraging walking is an important strategy in reducing obesity and improving health by increasing daily physical activity. It is also important to reducing energy usage and carbon emissions. Key findings from this report: (1) retailers, developers and many residents of urban and suburban areas have a favourable view of walkable shopping areas; (2) walkable shopping areas have several potential advantages as a result of demographics, the high cost of motorised transportation, and public policies that encourage higher population density; (3) businesses can be successful if the area reaches a critical population mass or there is access to good mass transit service; (4) general business success relies upon an ‘anchor’ retailer, usually a supermarket, and; (5) housing near successful walkable commercial areas commonly takes on higher value than in more distant areas.
  • The cost-effectiveness of installing sidewalks to increase levels of transport-walking and health, Gunn L, Lee Y, Geelhoed E, Shiell A and Giles-Corti B, Preventive Medicine, Volume 67 (2014). This study looked at the cost effectiveness of installing sidewalks to increase walking for active transport, with two walking thresholds of 150 min/week and 60 min/week. Data collected from Western Australia from 1995-2000 was used; population density had the greatest influence on the cost-effectiveness of sidewalks.
  • Economic benefit of the impact of the National Cycle Network on obesity and overweight (PDF  - 88 KB), Sustrans (2015). This analysis estimates that the National Cycle Network (NCN) saves the United Kingdom economy over £160 million each year by reducing the impact of obesity and overweight. Other health benefits of the NCN may include impacts on mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, as well as injury and illness prevention and rehabilitation, but these are beyond the remit of the current study.   
  • Economic benefit of open space, recreation facilities and walkable community design (PDF  - 324 KB), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Active Living Research (May 2010). This paper synthesises the large body of peer-reviewed and independent reports on the economic value of outdoor recreation facilities, open spaces, and walkable community design. People living in walkable neighborhoods get (on average) about 35–45 more minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. A number of studies found that adolescents with easy access to walkable communities and multiple recreation facilities were more physically active and less likely to be overweight and obese than those adolescents without such access. The long-term impact of walkable communities was a reduction in health care costs.
  • Economic benefits of cycling (PDF  - 243 KB), European Cyclists’ Federation (2011). The bicycle is the primary means of transport for more than 35 million Europeans or 7.4% of the total population. The cost effectiveness of cycling infrastructure (cycle paths and parking areas) alone makes this form of transportation preferable to motor vehicles.
  • The Economic Cycle, A business case for investment in cycling in Western Australia (PDF  - 2.08 MB), Ker I, Consulting in Applied Transport, Access and Land use Systems (CATALYST) for the Royal Auto Club, Western Australia (2012). When it comes to government funding, cycling infrastructure usually misses out to road or public transport projects. This report looks at what level of investment would be required to deliver a high quality cycling network in Western Australia and what level of economic benefit would flow from this investment. The business case first identified gaps in the current network and the impact of money previously spent; a lack of planning and the provision of cycling infrastructure to newly developed suburbs (since 1996) has limited the return on investment. Despite these limitations, current cycling projects have achieved economic, social, health and environmental benefits 3.4 to 5.4 times their cost. This analysis estimates that between $267 and $388 million in investment is required over the next 10 years. Of this total, at least $45 million is required for cycle routes in regional Western Australia. Currently the State Government has committed $25 million over two years (2012/13 and 2013/14). The metropolitan Perth Bicycle Network Plan, proposed in 1996, remains incomplete and the outstanding work (costed in 2010 prices) is $168 million.
  • Evaluating the economic benefits of nonmotorized transportation (PDF  - 865 KB), Simmons E, Kay M, Ingles A, Khurana M, Sulmont M and Lyons W, White Paper from the US Department of Transportation, Office of Human Environment (March 2015). This report examines potential methods for evaluating the economic benefits from nonmotorized transportation investments. The potential economic benefits of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and programming investments are discussed; including commute cost savings for bicyclists and pedestrians, direct benefits to tourism and businesses, indirect economic benefits due to changing consumer behaviour, and individual and societal cost savings associated with health and environmental benefits. This report reviews potential methods for analysing these different economic benefits on a project, neighborhood and larger community scale. 

The main focus of active transport research has been the health (mental and physical) and economic benefits (including environmental benefits) derived by participants and the community. Active transport has also been shown to be a mechanism for strengthening social networks and community cohesion. Walking in particular, whether it’s with family and friends as part of a group activity, allows participants to engage and this strengthens social networks.

  • Are liveable neighbourhoods safer neighbourhoods? Testing the rhetoric of new urbanism and safety from crime in Perth, Western Australia, Foster S, Hooper P, Knuiman M, Bull F and Giles-Corti B, Social Science & Medicine, Volume 164, Issue 1 (2016). The concept of ‘new urbanism’ (NU) advocates for design that is pedestrian friendly (i.e. promoting walking), contains mixed use development, and parkland. This study tested the premise that new urbanism reduces crime by examining the relationship between compliance with NU planning guidelines and: (1) residents’ report of victimisation, and (2) objective crime measures (i.e. police records). Findings indicate that for each 10% increase in overall compliance with NU design principles, the odds of being a victim of crime reduced by 40%. The association between NU compliance and objective measures were positive, but not statistically significant. These results indicate that planning policies based on new urbanism may indeed deliver other social and wellbeing benefits for residents.
  • Get them walking, Muth N, Idea Fitness Journal, Volume 13, Issue 5 (2016). Walking provides an easy way to start and maintain a physically active lifestyle combining exercise, health promotion, fun and transportation. Walking also promotes safer communities and stronger social networks. This article discusses the advantages and barriers to walking.
  • Personal, social and environmental correlates of active transport to school among adolescents in Otago, New Zealand, Mandic S, de la Barra S, Bengoechea G, Stevens E, Flaherty C, Moore A, Middlemiss M Williams J and Skidmore P, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Volume 18 (2015). This study examines personal, social and environmental correlates of active transport to school among adolescents; it looks at socio-demographics, behavioural patterns, motivational factors, perceived barriers, peer support, family resources, school characteristics, urban/rural setting, distance to school and neighbourhood safety perceptions. Social interaction (i.e. opportunity to chat with friends) was one of several positively associated (i.e. statistically significant) factors for active transport to school. This study concluded that future active transport to school interventions should focus on its social benefits as well as addressing parental safety concerns.
  • The role of transport and mobility in the health of older people (abstract), Musselwhite C, Holland C and Walker I, Journal of Transport & Health, Volume 2, Number 1 (2015). Mobility in later life is more than a means of getting to destinations and includes more affective or emotive associations. Cycling and walking facilitate not just physical health, but can serve to strengthen social and cultural links within a community. Older people want to stay connected to dispersed communities as they age; maintaining social networks enables them to contribute and connect with society and this is associated with positive mental and physical health, facilitating independence, and reducing social isolation. Cycling and walking are facilitated not just by improving safety but through social and cultural norms.
  • Transport and mobility needs of ageing Australians (PDF  - 610 KB), NRMA Discussion Paper (2010). All levels of government need to work together to ensure that a coordinated approach to infrastructure design and delivery is undertaken so that older and less mobile Australians can be accommodated. Walking for transport, particularly within retirement village settings, becomes increasingly important for seniors.
  • Walking, connecting and befriending: A qualitative pilot study of participation in a lay-led walking group intervention, South J, Giuntoli G, Kinsella K, Carless D, Long J and McKenna J, Journal of Transport & Health, abstract published online ahead of print (24 January 2017). Lay-led walking groups often use community engagement as motivation for participation. This paper presents results from qualitative research on a pilot project in the North of England, UK that sought to increase participation in lay-led walking groups run as part of the national Walking for Health scheme. There was strong qualitative evidence that social factors; which included mutual aid, strengthening of social networks, and social support; facilitated participation in group-based walking. This paper concludes that understanding social processes and how they link to health outcomes has implications for the design and evaluation of walking group interventions.

More information can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topic, Mature-aged Sport and Physical Activity.

Governments at all levels are interested in promoting the multiple benefits of active transport.  

Federal Government  

Walking, riding and access to public transport (PDF  - 10.7 MB), Australian Government, Department of Infrastructure and Transport (2013). Walking, cycling and public transport are important everyday modes of travel and key components of urban transport systems. This report sets out how the federal government will work to increase the proportion of Australians living in urban and suburban environments who use walking and cycling for short trips, together with building a better public transport system.

National Cycling Strategy 2011-16 (PDF  - 2.92 MB), Austroads (2010). Note: login required for free download. The majority of cycling infrastructure, services, and events are provided by the states, territories and local government as part of their normal business delivery.  This document is designed to provide focus on those areas where it is critical that all jurisdictions maintain momentum and those areas where a national strategy can add real value; co-ordinating and taking action at a national level. The Strategy sets out a framework of six key priorities: (1) cycling promotion; (2) infrastructure and facilities; (3) integrated planning; (4) safety; (5) monitoring and evaluation, and; (6) guidance and best practice. These key priorities have generic actions that can be applied within states, territories and local governments in accordance with community aspirations, priorities, and available resources.  

  • National Cycling Strategy: Implementation Report 2016, Austroads and Australian Bicycle Council, Austroads Publication Number AP-C93-17 (2017). In the final year of the National Cycling Strategy, key indicators of progress include:
    • State and Territory Governments continued to embed walking and cycling measures into a variety of planning instruments at both a strategic and an operational level.
    • State and Territory Governments spent $121.8 million on improving on-road and off-road cycling networks to key destinations in both urban and rural areas.
    • State and territory cycling promotion included programs that encourage cycling for short trips, recreational cycling and cycling to work. Programs that encouraged short trips include Ride2School (Vic, Tas, NT, ACT), Your Move (Qld) Cycle Instead (SA), Your Move (WA) and Active Streets (ACT).
    • Several jurisdictions also released bicycle strategies or updated cycling plans.
    • Of the 29 bicycle riders killed in 2016, 86% were aged over 40 years and 55% were aged over 60 years. This result is particularly significant given that cycling participation in Australia has been shown to decrease significantly with age.

Australian Capital Territory  

ACT Active Transport Office. The ACT Government will establish an Active Transport Office to enable more Canberrans to choose walking and cycling as their mode of transport and ensure better integration of transport modes across the city. The new Active Transport Office will operate as a single point of contact for walking and cycling issues and will include the creation of an ‘Active Transport Coordinator’ who will be a high profile public contact on these issues. 

Active Travel, section 3 of Transport for Canberra policy (PDF  - 429 KB), transport for a sustainable city, draft document for public comment, Australian Capital Territory (2011). The active travel objectives of the ACT government are: (1) more people of all ages cycling and walking to work, school and other trips; (2) bike riders and pedestrians interacting safely; (3) increased physical activity for health; (4) a strong economy, and; (5) reduced spending on healthcare. The ACT Government has undertaken a broad range of initiatives to encourage more people to walk and cycle and to support those who already do. This report provides a 22 point action plan.

Ride or Walk to School program. The Ride or Walk to School program is designed to drive culture change within the ACT school community to once again make riding and walking to school the norm for our kids. The three-year program provides ACT schools with free biking equipment, teacher training, resources, workshops and support to ensure the whole school community gets back in the saddle or puts on their sneakers to embrace riding and walking to school. This program contributes to the ACT Government’s Healthy Weight Initiative and is supported by the Physical Activity Foundation and ACT Health.  

New South Wales  

NSW Walking Strategy. The New South Wales Government, Premier’s Council for Active Living (PCAL), has compiled a number of background studies and reports on walking for active transport that can be accessed from the NSW Government website.
• Assessing the benefits of walking.
• NSW Walking Strategy – literature reviews.
• NSW Walking Strategy – stakeholder engagement report.
• Estimating the benefits of walking – a cost benefit methodology.

Walking for travel and recreation in NSW: What the data tells us (PDF  - 2.2 MB), PCAL (2011). This report complements other studies conducted by PCAL and summarises much of the data and findings. On an average weekday, the 2008 Sydney Household Travel Survey estimated that nearly 566,000 car trips, involving more than 316,000 vehicles, are made for trips of approximately one kilometre. Calculating an average walking speed of 1.2 metres/second, this represents a walking trip of 15 minutes or less. The report estimates a cost benefit of $134 million annually for only a small 5% switch to walking for short trips in Sydney; and a $214 million saving for a 10% shift. Current assessment methodologies suggest the benefits of walking include: (1) congestion savings, a shift from motor vehicles to walking will reduce the number of vehicles and congestion; (2) road provision savings, a decline in the motor vehicle use of roads will reduce road maintenance and construction costs; (3) vehicle operating cost savings, individuals may save on the costs of maintaining a vehicle; (4) external parking savings, user parking costs will be reduced and also the public cost of providing and maintaining vehicle parking facilities; (5) road safety is improved when separated pathway initiatives are implemented; (6) environmental pollution savings, in terms of carbon footprint; (7) noise levels are reduced if more individuals walk, and; (8) health cost savings result from an increase in physical activity that may reduce health risks.   

Sydney’s Cycling Future: Cycling for everyday transport (PDF  - 4.9 MB), New South Wales Government, Department of Transport (2013). The NSW Government invested $33 million in cycling infrastructure during 2013-14 across the state, much of this in the Sydney metropolitan area. This report outlines the planning and investment in infrastructure required and the proposed initiatives that will result in a safer and easier cycling experience for the people of Sydney.   

Northern Territory  

The Northern Territory Government, Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, has online information about walking and cycling in the Territory. The Department's website also has maps of walking and cycling routes/paths for Darwin and surrounding regions, Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek.  

Queensland  

Cost and health benefit of active transport in Queensland (PDF  - 5.4 MB), Fishman E (editor), Ker I, Garrard J, Litman T and Rissel C, Institute for Sensible Transport, report produced fro the Queensland Government (2011). This report includes monetised estimates of health benefits; as well as other economic, social, and environmental outcomes based on existing research and calibrated to the Queensland context. This review drew heavily on international experience as well as that in Australia and where possible, Queensland in particular. Costs-benefit is estimated for current economic conditions (2010) and projected for 2021 and 2031. Among the many estimates and recommendations made in this report – the benefits of a school-based active transport program are estimated to be between $109,000 to $134,000 for an ‘average’ inner urban school and $80,000 to $100,000 for an outer-suburban school.  

A new direction for cycling in Queensland (PDF  - 4.2 MB), Queensland Legislative Assembly; Report Number 39; Inquiry into Cycling Issues; Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee (November 2013). This report identifies ways to improve the interaction between cyclists and other road users. This report presents 68 recommendations made by the committee. The report outlines the overall benefits of cycling for individuals and communities in terms of health, social, economic and environmental outcomes: (1) cycling is a low impact activity and one of the safest ways to exercise without risk of overexertion or strain to muscles and joints; (2) anxiety, stress and depression are all alleviated, partly due to the physical activity itself, but also due to the pleasure and satisfaction of riding a bicycle; (3) cycling has additional wider public benefits such as lowering road and traffic congestion; (4) encouraging active transport for adults and children improves physical activity levels and reduces sedentary time; (5) cycling 10 kilometres each way to work reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 1500 kg/year, per person; (6) the community saves 60 cents per kilometre for every car trip replaced by a bicycle ride; (7) less car parks required, up to 20 bicycles can be stored in the space required for one car; (8) bicycles offer door-to-door service and are often quicker than cars over short distances up to five kilometres; (9) cycling offers a cheaper form of transport for those who are socially disadvantaged and less likely to own a car.  

South Australia  

Cycle Instead. The South Australian Government, Department of Transport and Infrastructure, has established the ‘Cycle Instead’ website - The government’s stated goal is to double the number of people cycling in South Australia by 2020, this is identified 

South Australia’s Strategic Plan. The website contains information on programs, infrastructure projects, grants, and resources for the cycling community.  

Streets for People: compendium for South Australian practice (PDF  - 24.4 MB), Government of South Australia, Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (2012). Putting people first and creating pedestrian and cycle friendly environments will make South Australia’s communities more vibrant and healthy. This publication provides information and guidance for the development of pedestrian and cycle friendly environments that promote health and strengthen communities. It condenses the knowledge, skills and policy agendas of a broad community of practitioners into one multi-faceted design resource, making the design and approval of innovative streets for people both easier and more desirable. Streets for People is useful to policy makers, transport planners, traffic engineers, urban designers, landscape architects, urban planners, developers and other professionals, and also provides an excellent introduction to best practice street design for members of the public.  

A whole of government approach to the development of the South Australian Government Cycling Strategy (PDF  - 112 KB), Government of South Australia, Health Lens Analysis Project (2012). Increasing the number of people who cycle will deliver health, economic, environmental, and social benefits. It can also support traditional transport goals and enhance public health. It has long been acknowledged that in order to successfully increase cycling there needs to be a culture that supports cycling. This cultural change needs to be at a population wide level so that cycling for transport, recreation, and exercise becomes normalised across the whole community. Cultural change can be facilitated through a multi-pronged approach, including connecting cycling networks across council areas, building infrastructure that supports cycling, incorporating cycling considerations in road system management, ensuring road conditions are not dangerous for cyclists, integrating cycling with public transport systems, encouraging behavioural change and integrating cycling needs with land use planning, transport planning and the built environments.  

Tasmania  

Tasmania Walking and Cycling for Active Transport Strategy, Government of Tasmania; Department of State Growth. This is the Government’s plan to create a more supportive and encouraging environment for pedestrians and cyclists. Cycling and walking are important transport options now and into the future and will make communities more liveable and better connected and encourage people to be healthier and physically active. The Tasmanian Government has established the ‘Trails and Bikeways Funding Program’ that provides $4 million in matching funds to Councils and community organisations for cycleways and walking trails projects.  

In addition to Tasmania’s active transport strategy, the attractiveness of Tasmania’s environment as a tourist destination for walkers and cyclists has influenced additional government strategies.  

  • Tasmanian Mountain Bike Plan (PDF  - 653 KB), Government of Tasmania (2009). The Plan communicates the importance of sustainable trail development, outlines some of the existing and potential environmental and social issues, and provides recommendations relating to best practice environmental management.
  • Trails Tasmania Strategy (PDF  - 1.1 MB), Government of Tasmania (2007). The Strategy addresses Tasmania’s off-road tracks, trails and pathways. Recreational trails are a key component of the Tasmanian lifestyle, as well as an experience for tourists and visitors to the state. Trails encourage healthy lifestyle, social interaction among users and a sense of community. Tasmania is widely recognised as a world-class bushwalking destination. The estimated asset value of Tasmania’s recreational trails is $150 to $200 million, with an annual maintenance and management cost of about $4 million.

Victoria

Active Transport Victoria. The Victorian Government has established Active Transport Victoria (ATV); a unit within the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources; to promote the benefits of walking and cycling in Victoria. This unit will take the lead and become the contact point for all cycling and pedestrian projects.

Measuring Walking (PDF  - 2.7 MB), Eady J, Victoria Walks (2012). The publication Measuring Walking: a Guide for Councils explains the issues and options for measuring pedestrian activity and looks at the advantages and disadvantages of various methods. The report also offers recommended approaches to common scenarios and outlines a range of Victorian case studies. The lack of sufficient information on walking rates and patterns means that governments cannot adequately measure exposure rates for traffic related walking accidents. Assessing the walkability of urban environments and making infrastructure improvements is an important component of promoting walking for the public good. Victoria Walks provides an easy to use Walking Audit tool, which can potentially be used by the public as well as transportation planners.  

Smart Steps for Councils (PDF  - 2.1 MB), Burtt D, Victoria Walks (2013). This presentation discusses the online toolkit developed by Victoria Walks. The resource provides information for the promotion of walking and walkable urban design; with links to key information from around the world. It highlights information from Australia and in particular, Victoria, and includes case studies of successful projects that promote walking and better public spaces.

Walk to School. This program is supported by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). It aims to encourage students to improve their health by increasing their walking activity, particularly to-and-from school. The 2016 Walk to School campaign, held during the month of October, attracted 144,928 students form 758 schools; who walked a combined total of 1.6 million kilometers.   

Shared paths – finding solutions: Position Statement and Recommendations, Victoria Walks (2015). Walking is the most popular form of leisure related physical activity in the Victorian population and at the same time, cycling ridership is growing very quickly in Victoria (9.5% increase between 2013 and 2014). Combined with the fact that shared paths are a popular choice for off-road cyclists, this has resulted in an emerging problem. Councils and other agencies have provided shared paths in good faith, in order to encourage walking and cycling, but some paths have exceeded expectations for cycling. The requirement for cyclists to give way to pedestrians on shared paths is not well understood. While separated paths are preferable among users, it is clear that shared paths will continue to be a significant form of infrastructure provision for cyclists and walkers. Therefore, efforts need to be made to establish a culture of sharing by users, consistent with applicable road rules, and shared paths should be low speed for cyclists. Victoria Walks has made these recommendations: (1) Shared paths with high volumes of cyclists (more than 50 per hour in the commuter peak) should be identified for separation/segregation; or options considered where cyclists can safely ride on roads. (2) Where existing shared paths cannot be separated/segregated, public education programs and appropriate signage should be implemented. (3) Road managers should avoid converting footpaths to shared walking/cycling paths, as they may be ‘designing out’ the most vulnerable users – older walkers and those with a disability. (4) In new suburbs, cyclists should be provided with dedicated cycling lanes on roads or safe on-road cycling conditions; and walkers with footpaths.   

Cycling into the Future 2013–23 (PDF  - 1.9 MB), Victorian Government (2012). Cycling into the Future 2013–23 recognises that it will take many years and much effort to consolidate Victoria’s position as the most bike friendly state in Australia. This strategy provides a sound base towards the goal of making Victoria the most bike friendly state in Australia, while continuing to support the growing number of Victorians now riding their bikes for transport, recreation, sport and fitness. It will be accompanied by a series of Action Plans, commencing with a two-year Action Plan for 2013 and 2014. The strategy and Action Plans will be complemented by Victoria’s Cycle Tourism Action Plan 2011–2015  (PDF  - 2.64 MB), which seeks to position Victoria as the leading state for cycle tourism.

Victorian Cycling Action Plan 2013 & 2014 (PDF  - 548 KB), Victorian Government (2012). Whether on regional tracks and trails in Victoria or in metropolitan Melbourne, this plan aims to make it easier for more people to cycle and to make it safer for people who already ride. This is a comprehensive plan that aims to improve the cycling experience for all types of bike riders − from those who ride to work or school every day to those who enjoy riding for recreation or fitness, and those who participate in competitive cycling sports. The plan identifies six directions for action: (1) build the evidence base for cycling, allowing all levels of government to make informed decisions; (2) enhance governance and streamline processes to coordinate planning and delivery of infrastructure and programs; (3) reduce safety risks; (4) encourage cycling through public and private campaigns and programs; (5) grow the cycling economy; (6) plan networks and prioritise investment.  

Western Australia  

Planning and designing for pedestrians: guidelines (PDF  - 4.4 MB), Government of Western Australia, Department of Transport (2012). Detailed guidance to local government authorities on providing for pedestrians in the road environment.       

Walking, Government of Western Australia, Department of Transport, offers a range of initiatives to promote active transport to school. The Walking School Bus and TravelSmart to Schools are two such programs.  

Western Australian Bicycle Network Plan, 2014-2031 (PDF  - 2.8 MB), Government of Western Australia, Department of Transport (2014). The number of people cycling to work, or for pleasure, has increased more than fivefold over the past 15 years and this trend is expected to continue as more Western Australians reap the environmental, social and health benefits offered by choosing bicycles for business or leisure trips. 

Local Government authorities  

Australian Local Government Bicycle Account 2011 (PDF  - 640 KB), Australian Bicycle Council (2012). In 2011 the Australian Bicycle Council (ABC) and the Australia Local Government Association (ALGA) surveyed Australian local government authorities about their efforts to encourage more cycling. The survey was an initiative of the Australian National Cycling Strategy 2011-16, which aims to double the number of Australian cyclists by 2016. Key results from this survey:  

  • Councils responding to the survey spent more than $72 million on bicycle-related programs in 2009-10.
  • Survey participants reported receiving $26 million from the Australian Government and $26 million from State/Territory Governments toward cycling projects.
  • More than two-thirds of responding councils either have a bicycle strategy or are working towards one.
  • As at June 2010, councils responding to the survey reported having constructed approximately 11,700km of cycling infrastructure. When currently planned cycle networks are completed the infrastructure will measure more than 17,800km.
  • Survey participants reported the installation of 509 sporting and recreational facilities for various forms of cycling; including 36 velodromes, 113 mountain biking facilities, and 360 BMX/skate facilities.

An Australian vision for active transport (PDF  - 4.0 MB), Australian Local Government Association (2010). Using walking and cycling as a means of active transport is more cost effective than structured exercise programs in achieving population health outcomes; and using public transport is a cost effective way to achieve environmental and economic benefits. The Australian Local Government Association has made nine recommendations to support greater use of active transport and public transport.

  1. Develop an integrated national active transport strategy and establish a national active transport authority.
  2. Develop clear and realistic targets for active transport and physical activity outcomes.
  3. Provide local government authorities with targeted funding for active transport.
  4. Support the development of ‘Healthy Spaces and Places’ planning principles.
  5. Encourage regional and local projects such as cycle routes and hiking tracks.
  6. Promote safer environments for people who choose to walk and cycle, or use public transport.
  7. Fund social marketing programs to promote the benefits of walking and cycling for people of all ages.
  8. Support cycling training and pedestrian education in schools.
  9. Provide incentives for persons to walk, cycle, or take public transport to work. 

Local Governments in Australia’s urban centres all recognise the value of increasing cycling and walking – reduced traffic congestion; public transport connectivity; environmental benefits; improved social interaction; as well as population health and fitness benefits. The Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane plans (Note: many other councils have plans and strategies) highlight the work being done and the forward planning initiatives.

  • City of Melbourne Bicycle Plan, 2016-2020 (PDF  - 135 KB), Melbourne City Council, Future Melbourne Committee (15 March 2016). There has been significant effort to make Melbourne a bicycle-friendly city, Melbourne’s Bicycle Plan aims to increase bike use in the city.
  • Cycling in Melbourne, City Futures Research Centre, University of NSW. The ‘Riderlog’ app is used to capture data on cycling activity in metropolitan Melbourne. Information is collected every 40 seconds on a number of participant metrics, including: (1) time of rider activity; (2) travel patterns by gender and age (3) duration of travel; (4) purpose of travel (e.g. transportation to school or work, general purposes, recreation), and (5) trip origin (i.e. identifying the suburbs and precincts where cyclists reside). Data display against a map reference helps to identify patters and trends for cycling behaviour. For example – peak cycling usage occurs in the CBD from 6:30 to 9:30am and 5:30 to 7:30pm; female cycling activity tends to occur most often on dedicated cycle infrastructure as compared to their male cohort; the largest proportion (37%) of Melbourne’s cyclists are in the 36 to 46 years age-group; 44% of rides take between 30 minutes and one hour; approximately 15% of cycling trips in the CBD are commute to work and only 0.2% are transport to school, and; identifying ‘hot spots’ of cycling origin will help city planners. 
  • City of Melbourne Walking Plan, Melbourne City Council (2014). Around 840,000 people pass through our city daily. The City’s Walking Plan is part of an integrated approach to transport. Walking makes economic sense; a 10 per cent increase in the connectivity of the pedestrian network in the City would add $2.1 billion to the City’s economy.
  • City of Sydney: Cycle Strategy and Action Plan, 2007-2017 (PDF  - 1.7 MB), City of Sydney Council (2007). The City Council aims to making cycling an equal transport choice for residents, workers and visitors.
  • Sydney’s Walking Future: Connecting people and place (PDF  - 3.4 MB), NSW Government, Department of Transport (2013). Walking is a fundamental part of an integrated transport system. Most public transport journeys start and end with walking, and almost all of the 1.2 million people arriving daily in the Sydney CBD will spend some of their time travelling on foot.
  • Brisbane Active Transport Strategy, 2012-2026 (PDF  - 7.7 MB), Brisbane City Council (2012). Encouraging active transport is part of Council’s balanced approach to reducing Brisbane’s traffic congestion and is a great way for residents to stay active and healthy.

Canada  

Active transportation: the use of human power, Sport Information Resource Centre (SIRC ) of Canada, blog (13 January 2015). According to the 2011 Statistics Canada National Household Survey, Canadian commuters who walked or biked spent the least amount of time traveling to work with an average of 12.7 minutes and 20.0 minutes respectively. The average Canadian vehicle commuter spent about 23.7 minutes getting to work.  

Economic value of walkability (PDF  - 185 KB), Litman T, Transportation Research Record, Volume 1828, Paper Number 03-2731 (2003). Current transportation planning practices in Canada tend to undervalue walking. This paper investigates the value of walking (as an activity) and walkability (environmental conditions and factors) and identifies the potential economic benefits. 

European Union

Declaration on cycling as a climate friendly transport mode (PDF  - 344 KB), EU Transport Minister’s meeting, Luxembourg (7 October 2015). In and around Europe’s many growing urban centres, cycling is an essential tool for congestion relief. After walking, cycling is the most cost effective means of urban transportation, saving fuel and reducing carbon emissions. Cycling also provides health benefits to individuals and societal benefits from a healthier population. The World Health Organization estimates that if every adult in the EU walked or cycled an additional 15 minutes per day, more than 100,000 premature deaths linked to insufficient physical activity could be avoided annually. Ministers and State Secretaries attending this meeting call upon the Commission to consider the following actions: (1) integration of cycling plans into multimodal transport policy; (2) development of an EU level strategic document on cycling; (3) facilitate the exchange of best practice among Member States; (4) strengthen cycling networks at all levels – international, national and regional; (5) include cycling in urban projects as both a transport mode and a recreational activity, and (6) co-fund opportunities with other stakeholders.

Switch: Embracing active travel for health, Final Report, Swennen B, Baltatzi E, Panozzo N, Mayne K and Unbehaun W, European Union (2016). The Switch project helped planning and transport practitioners conduct organised campaigns designed to get people to ‘switch’ from car journeys to walking and cycling. 

Vitality from walking and cycling (PDF  - 27.9 MB), Verne Transport Research Centre, Tampere University of Technology, Finland (2014). Walking is the oldest and most natural way for humans to get around and cycling has extended our range of mobility. One indicator used to measure the viability of city centres is the number of pedestrians, walking improves health and promotes social interaction. Cycling is also used to promote public health and is an environmentally friendly form of transport. This publication has gathered evidence on how walking and cycling benefits individuals and communities, it provides examples of best practice in promoting walking and cycling in European countries.

What is the return on investment for cycling? (infographic), European Union (2016). This infographic shows how investment in cycling projects throughout Europe has delivered positive social and economic returns. 

United Kingdom  

Benefits of investing in cycling (PDF  - 673 KB), Aldred R, British Cycling (2014). Investing in cycling will generate benefits for the whole country, not just those using a bike to get around. Eleven benefits are summarised in this report which can help solve a series of health, social and economic problems. This report shows how investing in cycling is good for transport systems as a whole, for local economies, for social inclusion, and for public health. The benefits of cycling discussed in this report are: (1) more people get the exercise they need; (2) cycling does not generate air or noise pollution; (3) more cycling makes the streets safer; (4) investing in cycling infrastructure will increase the safety of cyclists; (5) cycling can improve psychological wellbeing; (6) cycling can increase mobility for Britain’s poorest residents; (7) cycling promotes independence for both youth and mature-age people; (8) well designed cycling infrastructure creates more liveable cities; (9) investing in cycling can boost local economic activity; (10) cycling means more predictable travel times for people in congested cities, and; (11) planning well for cycling enables a more efficient transport network.  

Cycling and Walking investment strategy (PDF  - 2.1 MB), Government of the United Kingdom, Department for Transport (2017). This report outlines the government’s ambition to make cycling and walking a natural choice for shorter journeys by 2040. It sets out objectives, aims and targets; details the financial resources available; includes a number of indicators that will help track progress, and; sets out the governance arrangements that will be put in place.  

Fit for Life: Independent research into the public health benefits of new walking and cycling routes (PDF  - 916 KB), Sustrans, funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, United Kingdom (2016). This report looks at the impact of new walking and cycling infrastructure in the UK completed between 2009 and 2013. Have new routes helped more people to switch from using their cars to walking or cycling, getting them more physically active and reducing their carbon footprint in the process? In particular, this study explored why these interventions are (or are not) effective, in what ways, for whom, and in what circumstances. The main findings presented in this report:

  • Studies show that new, high-quality, traffic-free cycling and walking routes encouraged more people to get about by foot and by bike.
  • Change can take time. It took two years to see a significant effect on physical activity.
  • The routes are well used by the local population. Two years after construction, 38% of all local residents had used the infrastructure, including 52% of those living less than 1km away.
  • Quantitative and qualitative data reveals that walking and cycling routes had predominantly recreational use. This may have reflected the specific local goals of some of the projects and that the infrastructure may not yet have been joined up with the rest of the transport network.
  • The increases in physical activity observed were equally spread between men and women and adults of different ages and social groups.
  • Gains in walking and cycling were not offset by reductions in other forms of physical activity, suggesting that new routes have encouraged people to become more active overall.
  • People who lived closer to and/or used the routes were more likely to report a more supportive environment in terms of safety. These changes in perception may have contributed to people taking up the opportunity to use the new infrastructure. 

Get Britain Cycling, All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group Report (April 2013). Urgent action is required to address Britain’s chronic levels of obesity, heart disease, air pollution and traffic congestion. This report presents an alternative; when more people cycle or walk there is a measurable benefit in public health, obesity reduces, and roads become safer. By changing how people travel it is possible to improve population health and reduce costs to the National Health Service. This report presents a number of recommendations for action. 

Policy, planning and design for walking and cycling (PDF  - 239 KB), Government of the United Kingdom, Department of Transport (2015). In promoting an integrated transport system, the Government recognises the necessity for improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists, with particular emphasis on the needs of disabled people. Promotion of walking and cycling is important in helping to support other major Government objectives such as improved public health, better air quality, and sustainable land-use planning. 

Scotland on the move: actions needed to get more people walking and cycling (PDF  - 2.6 MB), a joint publication on behalf of The Scottish Cycling Charity, Cycling Scotland, Living Streets, Paths for All, Ramblers Scotland, Sustrans, and Transform Scotland (2015). Scotland is fortunate to have a positive policy landscape and clear government support for active travel, but much work remains to improve towns, cities and rural areas so they are attractive for walkers and cyclists. This document outlines the policy commitments needed to get Scotland moving. Let's Get Scotland Walking (infographic).

Sustrans, Our Strategy 2017-2022 (PDF  - 5.4 MB), Sustrans, United Kingdom (2017). Sustrans is a charity registered in the United Kingdom that focuses on greater public use of walking and cycling. Traveling in an active, sustainable way leads to a happier, healthier population; greener community; better local environments; and stronger economy. This document sets out Sustrans’ strategy for the next five years. 

United States  

A resident’s guide for creating safer communities for walking and biking (PDF  - 2.5 MB), Sandt L, Thomas L, Langford K and Nabors D, U.S. Department of Transportation, Report Number FHWA-SA-14-099 (January 2015). This guide is intended to assist residents, parents,  community organisations, and others in getting involved in making communities safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. The guide includes facts, ideas, and resources to help residents learn about traffic problems that affect pedestrians and bicyclists and to find ways to help address these problems and promote safety for all road users. The guide includes information on identifying problems, taking action to address pedestrian and bicycle concerns, finding solutions to improve safety, and resources containing additional information.

Bicycling policy indirectly associated with overweight/obesity (abstract), Suminski R, Wasserman J, Mayfield C, Freeman E and Brandi R, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 47, Issue 6 (2014). Data representing 48 large U.S. cities from multiple years, 2006 and 2012, were obtained from the Center for Disease Control, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Alliance for Biking and Walking to evaluate the relationship between bicycle policies and overweight/obesity in the population. These relationships did not remain statistically significant in the multivariate analysis. However, more bicycle policies were associated with significantly greater number of bicycle infrastructure components; such as cycle paths and cycle lanes in roads. In turn, cycling infrastructure components were positively related to the percentage of adults using cycling as a means of active transport to their workplace. Cycling to work showed a statistically significantly inverse relationship with overweight/obesity rates (i.e. higher rates of cycling meant lower rates of overweight/obesity).  

Bicyclist Safety (PDF  - 1.7 MB), Williams A, Governors Highway Safety Association, USA (2014). Bicycling is being aggressively promoted as an alternative to motor vehicle use, and its popularity has grown in the United States over the past 25 years, particularly among adults as a means of travel. The potential health and environmental benefits that could result from increased bicycling make it attractive. However, there are potential risks for bicyclists when they are on the road with motor vehicles. Between 2010 and 2012 cycling deaths increased by 16% to 722 in 2012, and 84% of these fatalities were adults over the age of 20 years. Motor vehicle deaths have increased by only 1% over the same period. Lack of helmet use is a major contributing factor in fatalities, as state laws do not require adult cyclists to wear a helmet and legislation in only 21 states requires helmet use by children. Data from 2012 indicates that only 17% of cycling fatalities were wearing a helmet. In addition, 25% of adult cycling fatalities involved alcohol impairment (blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher).  

Safe Routes to School National Partnership. Practitioners implementing Safe Routes to School programs or other active travel promotion programs can access research summaries and other useful information. The Safe Routes to School Partnership provides advocacy to governments (federal, state and local) in the United States. Their priorities include transportation, education, health and the environment.  

Walk On: Strategies to promote walkable communities (PDF  - 590 KB), Phan C, Aboelata M, Cantor J, Viera S and Waters R, Prevention Institute (2014). There is no singular policy prescription for making walking more accessible; rather there is a set of principles that can be applied to any local context, often called ‘complete streets policies’. This report contains a number of case studies that including urban, suburban and rural communities.       


Resources

  • Active Design Guidelines: Promoting physical activity and health in design (PDF  - 16.4 MB), City of New York (2010). This manual draws upon specific examples to illustrate the most effective design strategies for achieving a more physically active way of living in urban spaces.
  • Active Living Research – tools and resources. Active Living Research is funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in the United States, it provides a repository of research papers on various active transport (and related) topics, including: pedestrian and bike facilities; parks and recreation; trails and greenways; recreation programs; safe routes to school; joint use agreements; architecture, building and urban design, and; social and cultural environment.
  • Find a Walking Group, Heart Foundation Australia. Walking makes regular physical activity enjoyable and easy. Walking groups may be different sizes and walk at various times, distances, days and levels of difficulty. If you do not live near a group or prefer to walk on your own, you can join as a ‘Virtual Walker’ and track your progress online. This website makes it easy to find a walking group.
  • How to support children to become independent as they grow, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), published online (15 October 2015). Children who are able to play and travel without an adult, and those who regularly walk or cycle to school, are more likely to meet Australian physical activity guidelines. However, research also shows that parental fear plays an important role in shaping children’s independence and unsupervised physical activity. A three year study conducted by La Trobe University and supported by VicHealth looked at parental fear as a potential barrier to children’s independence and their likelihood of meeting physical activity guidelines. From this research, the report Parental fear: A barrier to the independent mobility of children was forthcoming. The research address the evidence and offers practical guidelines for parents. 
  • Parental fear: A barrier to the independent mobility of children (PDF  - 2.7 MB) Research Highlights and Full Report, VicHealth (2015). This research aimed to identify whether parental fear influences children’s independent mobility; after taking into account the impact of associated parent, child, family, socioeconomic, neighbourhood, and broader political and economic factors. Four major themes around parental fear emerged from this research. (1) Daily routines and managing the demands of family life were major influences on children’s travel and play. Children who attended before-school or after-school care lacked opportunities to practice travelling to school by walking, cycling or public transport. (2) Parents and children felt more comfortable about independent mobility when they knew people in the local neighbourhood and were familiar with their surroundings. Children’s independence was determined by networks of family and friends in the local community. (3) Worries about strangers and other safety concerns (such as road traffic, access to footpaths, lighting, etc.) during independent travel or play. (4) Finding a reference point for decision-making and boundaries. Parents would weigh up the social, emotional and physical health benefits against children’s skills and maturity, potential risks, and demands on parents’ time before making decisions about the appropriateness of independent mobility for their child.
  • Urban Street Design Guide (PDF  - 4.8 MB), National Association of City Transportation Officials, USA (2012). This Guide outlines the design principles and strategies that cities are adopting to confront 21st Century demands on transportation. It is based on the idea that streets are spaces for people as well as arteries for traffic. The Guide highlights projects that provide great streets, and reflect international best practice based upon research in urban design, planning and engineering.

Reports 

  • Active travel to school: literature review (PDF  - 1.1 MB), Garrard J, Australian Capital Territory Government (2011). ‘Incidental’ exercise, including active transport to and from school, can substantially contribute to the recommended overall levels of physical activity; yet active transport has declined markedly over past decades. Active transport provides an activity that is continuous, expends sufficient energy, can be performed by most children, and does not appear to displace other forms of physical activity. Therefore, increasing children’s active travel is likely to result in net gains in the overall level of physical activity and in the proportion of children achieving the recommended levels of physical activity. This report reviews the available evidence from Australia and internationally and concludes that policy changes can be achieved through programs such as Safe Routes to School, Walking School Bus, School Travel Planning and Walk/Ride to School events. These initiatives need to be complemented by area-wide improvements that create supportive environments for active travel. The experiences of many countries, cities and municipalities provide a model for sustainable transport planning aimed at increasing active travel to school in the ACT.
  • Australian Cycling Participation, Report for the National Cycling Strategy 2011-2016, Australian Bicycle Council and Austroads (2013). This survey builds upon similar information captured in the 2011 Australian Cycling Participation Survey. The survey estimates that 16.6% of the Australian population had ridden a bicycle in the week prior to the survey and 37.4% had ridden at least once in the previous year. Males are more likely to participate in cycling than females; overall 20.9 per cent of males and 12.4 per cent of females had ridden prior to the survey. Young children have the highest levels of cycling participation, with the 3 to 9 year age-group having the highest participation rate. The average Australian household has 1.47 bicycles in working order.
  • Australian Cycling Participation Survey, National Results (PDF  - 746 KB), Austroads (July 2015). The National Cycling Participation Survey (NCPS) is a standardised survey that has been repeated biennially since 2011. The NCPS provides data on cycling participation at a national level and allows for estimates of participation for each state and territory. Cycling participation (as measured by participation in the week prior to survey) has changed from 18.2% (2011) to 16.5% (2013) to 17.4% in the most recently published survey (2015). Overall, this does not represent a statistically significant change between the three surveys. Participation (as measured in the previous month) trended downward from 27.1% (2011) to 24.3% (2015); likewise, participation (as measured over the past year) declined from 40.2% to 36.3%; these monthly and yearly declines were statistically significant at the .05 level. Trends in cycling participation rates by state/territory show that NSW experienced a significant increase, while Victoria and Queensland have experiences a significant decrease. The other jurisdictions did not experience a statistically significant change. Overall, cycling was most popular in Western Australia, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. When participation rates are broken down by age-group and gender there are no significant trends. The overall decline in weekly participation rate may be attributed to a trend among both males and females aged 30 and over to less frequent cycling participation; there is no evidence to suggest that youth cycling participation rates have changed significantly since 2011. When cycling was classified by purpose (transportation or recreation) there was a significant increase in recreational use, but not for transport (note: some riders will have travelled solely for one purpose, while many riders travel for both transport and recreation and the purposes are often not mutually exclusive). The average amount of time spent cycling per week in 2015 was 2.75 hours, this is less than the 2011 survey data, but not significantly different to 2013. The survey also showed that 45% of Australian households own a working bicycle (substantially unchanged over the past two surveys). Several conclusions are drawn from the data: (1) notwithstanding the absence of growth in cycling participation, the cycling participation rate remains very high – much higher than most recreational sports activities; (2) given that 6.6% of the total population are aged under 3 years or over 80 years of age (when cycling is unlikely), increases in cycling participation are difficult to achieve, and; (3) it is possible that the gradual ageing of the Australian population has contributed to the observed participation trend. 
  • Bicycle Wayfinding: Literature Review (PDF  - 11.8 MB), Harris M and Salomon W, Austroads (log in required for download) publication number AP-R493-15 (2015). This report documents the bicycle directional signage (i.e.wayfinding) systems currently in use in seven major cycling nations and in seven Australian and New Zealand jurisdictions. Signage is a critical component used to assist and legitimise the many and varied trips which cyclists make daily within our cities and towns. In the past, signage projects have usually been done in conjunction with the construction of individual bicycle routes either on-road or off-road. As cycling develops within urban regions, it is essential that uniform directional signage systems be installed to support this development recognise the importance of bicycle networks. This report covers signage for bicycle networks, tourism routes, and other cycling environments.
  • Bike Share: a synthesis of the literature (PDF  - 708 KB), Fishman E, Washington S, and Haworth N, Transport Reviews, Volume 33, Number 2 (2013). Bike share programs have existed for almost 50 years and the last decade has seen a sharp increase in both their prevalence and popularity worldwide. This paper provides an evaluation of the current state of global bike share research, in order to better understand and maximise the effectiveness of current and future programs.
  • Blueprint for an active Australia (PDF  - 13.0 MB), second edition, National Heart Foundation of Australia (2014). Active living plays a key role in broader economic and social goals for our nation, as well as providing personal benefits. This report outlines the responsibility of governments (federal, state/territory and local) in health promotion policies and programs, school physical education, sport and fitness, active transport (school or work), urban planning, sport and recreation programs. This report makes recommendations on what must be done to make Australia a more active nation.
  • Building Healthy Places: Strategies for enhancing health in the built environment (PDF  - 7.7 MB), Mulligan J (editor), Frank J, MacCleery R, Nienaber S, Hammerschmidt S and Claflin A (contributing authors), Urban Land Institute, USA (2015). This report identifies opportunities to enhance public health through urban design. It outlines 21 evidence-based recommendations for promoting health through building or project scale; seven of these recommendations impact upon active transport and physical activity opportunities: (1) design well-connected street networks, providing sidewalks and enticing pedestrian-oriented streetscapes; (2) provide infrastructure to support biking; (3) design visible, enticing stairs to encourage everyday use and install prompts and signage; (4) provide high-quality spaces for intergenerational recreation activities; (5) build play spaces for children; (6) increase access to nature; (7) create spaces that facilitate social engagement.
  • COST 358 Pedestrians’ Quality Needs: Final report (PDF  - 2.7 MB), Methorst R, Monterde i Bort H, Risser R, Sauter D, Tight M and Walker J, European Union, European Science Foundation (2010). The Pedestrians' Quality Needs Project established what people need when they choose to walk. This summary provides an understanding of those needs and how they can be met and supported by public policy. The analysis is from a European perspective.
  • Cost analysis of bicycle facilities: Cases from cities in the Portland, Oregon region, Weigand L, McNeil N and Dill J, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Portland State University (2013). Bicycling instead of driving for shorter distances can help reduce traffic congestion, promote physical activity, and support better health outcomes for the individual. This study was undertaken to provide policy-makers with objective information on the true costs of bicycle facilities; which are often not easy to capture because they may be included as part of larger multi-modal roadway projects.
  • Cycling aspects of Austroads guides, 2017 Edition (log-in required for free download), Taylor S, Giang C, Chau P and Aumann P (editors), Austroads Publication Number AP-G88-17 (2017). This document contains information that relates to the planning, design and traffic management of cycling facilities in Australia, and is sourced from other Austroads publications. It is intended as a guide for engineers, planners, and designers involved in the planning, design, construction, and management of cycling infrastructure.
  • Cycling Australia women’s stakeholder findings 2013, public report (PDF  - 1.3 MB), Cycling Australia (2014). The findings of this report are based on the responses of 2,400 women. They provide insights into the challenges, opportunities, riding behaviours and satisfaction levels of women who ride bikes in Australia. The majority (80%) of recreational riders cycle at least once a week and more than half ride up to 50km per week. The survey indicated that a significant proportion of women in the community would benefit from access to accredited coaching, skills training and insurance. Both recreational and sporting cyclists would like to see stronger advocacy for safe road use, a lobby for more bike lanes, education of drivers, and general safety improvements to roads.
  • Cycling Infrastructure: Selected case studies (PDF  - 3.5 MB), Austroads (log in required for free download), publication number AP-T282-14 (2014). This report contains 29 case studies showcasing innovative Australian and New Zealand urban and regional bicycle infrastructure. In the absence of local precedents, ‘non-standard’ infrastructure treatments were sought which are not detailed in Austroads Guides. The case studies were compiled with the intention of forming part of a set of design resources for urban planners, designers, as well as traffic and transport engineers. The case studies cover the following areas: (1) intersections; (2) separated intersections; (3) mid-block treatments; (4) separated cycleways; (5) shared paths; (6) lighting and bicycle detection; (7) off-road bicycle trails, and; (8) parking and end-of-trip facilities.
  • Designed to Move: Active Cities (PDF  - 7.7 MB), Active Living Research (2015). Integrating physical activity into the places that people live, work, learn, travel and play will encourage a more active population and thus, improve population health and other positive outcomes. Creating spaces and using good urban design can encourage people to be more active. This report provides a blueprint for creating active cities; case studies from nine cities (large and small) are used to illustrate how good design and policies can be implemented. Active transport is a key strategy in urban planning.
  • How to increase bicycling for daily travel, Active Living Research, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, USA (May 2013). Cycling is an excellent mode of transportation for people of all ages. Many studies show that cycling to school improves cardiovascular fitness and overall health among children and adolescents. As with any kind of sport or physical activity, bicycling poses some risk of injury, but recent studies show that the health benefits of cycling far exceed the risks. As cycling levels increase injury rates fall, making bicycling safer and providing even greater net health benefits in the long-term. This report summarises the available evidence about strategies for increasing bicycling levels and encouraging bicycling as a mode of transportation. It also presents related policy implications.
  • Integrating health into transportation planning in Metro Vancouver (PDF  - 1.6 MB), University of British Columbia, Health and Community Design Lab (Canada). This brochure summarises a number of factors that should be considered when building a policy framework; including transportation investments, land use, patterns of travel behaviour, physical activity patterns, vehicle emissions, noise and traffic volume, and health outcomes resulting from active transport. It concludes that the most effective programs will be those integrating health outcomes into transportation needs.
  • Low cost interventions to encourage cycling: Selected case studies (PDF  - 3.5 MB), Austroads (log in required for free download), publication number AP-T281-14 (2014). This report contains 15 case studies showcasing low cost interventions that have successfully encouraged cycling in Australia and New Zealand. The case studies relate to best practice of the National Cycling Strategy 2011-16 and they illustrate what is possible and provide inspiration to planners and practitioners. The case studies include infrastructure, education, and encouragement projects that remove barriers to cycling.
  • Making the case for designing active cities (PDF  - 615 KB), Sallis J and Spoon C, et.al., Active Living Research (2015). This report looks at the body of research supporting the co-benefits of ‘activity-friendly environments’ on physical and mental health, social benefits, safety and injury prevention, environmental sustainability, and economics. All five physical activity settings (parks and open spaces, urban landscapes, transportation systems, schools, and workplaces) could be designed to increase physical activity; and thus, deliver the intended personal and community benefits. Activity-friendly design in all settings had strong evidence supporting environmental co-benefits based on reduced pollution and carbon emissions. In addition, there was little evidence of negative consequences of activity-friendly environments. However, the authors note that many gaps in evidence exist and should be the focus for further research.
  • Physical activity, sport and walking: VicHealth’s investment plan 2014 to 2018 (PDF  - 170 KB), VicHealth (2014). The plan builds on VicHealth’s previous work that focused on building organisational capacity. It transitions toward direct engagement of Victorians in physical activity through investments and initiatives that encourage physical activity participation through sport and walking.
  • Planning checklist for cycling (PDF  - 170 KB), Bicycle Network Victoria (2013). These guidelines can be used to help build healthy new suburbs where everyone can ride their bike as part of their everyday lifestyle. The checklist is divided into three sections: (1) new community, (2) new neighbourhood, and (3) new streets.
  • Road Safety and Public Health (PDF  - 1.1 MB) Vernon D, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (2014). There is a large potential for road safety and public health practitioners to work closely. The aim of this report is to assess the current level of integration of road safety and public health activities, highlight examples of good practice, and provide guidance for road safety officers and public health practitioners on how the work of both can be integrated. This report makes the following recommendations: (1) healthy transport is the wider issue that links road safety with public health; (2) identify shared agendas between public health and road safety policies; (3) identify the co-benefits that public health and road safety activities have on each other, and; (4) accumulate evidence to support joint strategies for health and road safety.
  • Safe routes to school and traffic pollution: Get children moving and reduce exposure to unhealthy air (PDF  - 2.0 MB), McAuley T and Pedroso M, The Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Consulting for Health, Air, Nature, & a Greener Environment (CHANGE), funded by the American Public Health Association (2012). A lack of physical activity is one of the major contributors to overweight and obesity in the United States. Evidence shows that walking and cycling are good ways of getting physical activity, and active transport to school offers an effective way to build more physical activity into children’s lives. Studies consistently show the positive impact of walking and cycling to school on children’s physical activity levels and health. Children using active transport to school are more physically active throughout the day and have better cardiovascular fitness than children who are driven to school. However, there is very little published research providing an assessment of whether the benefits of active transport to school in areas of high traffic pollution outweigh potential health risks. General modelling studies used to simulate the impact of shifting one-half of all car trips of less than five miles to cycling, predict that the improved air quality resulting from less traffic pollution combined with the increased physical activity would result in health care savings of approximately $8.7 billion per year in the six Midwest States used for the simulation; the national benefits would be many times that figure.
  • What enables cycling and safe cycling behaviours? (PDF  - 32 KB), Enabling Change (2011). This report provides a strategy to increase the number of people cycling in the city of Sydney and to reduce the incidence of conflict between cyclists, pedestrians and drivers on shared roads or pathways.

Research  

  • Active commuting and obesity in mid-life: cross-sectional, observational evidence from UK Biobank (abstract), Flint E and Cummins S, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, published online ahead of print (16 March 2016). This study examined the relationship between active commuting and obesity in mid-life using objectively measured anthropometric data from UK Biobank and self-reported commuting activity. Data on over 72,000 men and 83,000 women, aged 40 to 69 years, were collected between 2006 and 2010. Statistical analysis was controlled for income, education, location (i.e. socio-economic area and urban or rural residence), alcohol consumption and smoking, other leisure physical activity, occupational physical activity, and limiting illness or disability. This study found that active commuting was significantly and independently associated with reduced body mass index (BMI) and percentage body fat for both sexes. Commuting behaviour was graded into seven categories (e.g. mixed public transport and walking or cycling, walking, cycling, and other combinations) and all categories of active transport demonstrated potential health benefits when compared to car-only commuters. These findings support the case for interventions to promote active travel as a population-level policy response for prevention of obesity in mid-life.
  • Are income-related differences in active travel associated with physical environmental characteristics? A multi-level ecological approach, Rind E, Shortt N, Mitchell R, Richardson E and Pearce J, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 12 (2015). This study explored income-related differences in active travel (walking and cycling) in relation to multiple physical environmental characteristics including air pollution, climate and levels of green space, in urban areas across England. The study found that the income-related gradient in making active trips remained steep in the most favourable environment areas. Whilst more affluent populations enjoy many health advantages, they will still benefit from increasing their levels of physical activity through active travel. Benefits of active travel to the whole community include reduced vehicle emissions, reduced carbon consumption, the preservation or enhancement of infrastructure.
  • Assessing cost-effectiveness in obesity: Active transport program for primary school children—TravelSMART Schools Curriculum Program (PDF  - 597 KB), Moodie M, Haby M, Swinburn B and Carter R, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Volume 8, Number 4 (2011), available from Deakin University Research Online. This research assessed the cost-effectiveness of the TravelSMART Schools (TSS) program for 10 and 11 year-old Australian children, as an obesity prevention measure. There is evidence, at least in adults, to suggest that active commuting is more likely to be adopted and sustained than other types of exercise programs. However, the TSS intervention was not found to be cost-effective in terms of its effect on obesity in children, where all costs were attributed to this single objective. However, this study did not assess other potential economic and social benefits of active transport to school. While the intervention was not cost-effective when applied to a narrow outcome, a case for cautious optimism arose when a broader view of ‘benefit’ was assumed. It cannot be denied that the intervention’s capacity to increase the physical activity levels of children was among its potential positive benefits.
  • Assessing cycling-friendly environments for children: are micro-environmental factors equally important across different street settings? (abstract), Ghekiere A, et.al., International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 12, published online ahead of print (2015). Cycling for transportation and recreation is one way to increase the physical activity level of children. The aims of the study were to identify whether manipulating micro-environmental factors, such as evenness of cycle path, influences the perceived supportiveness for transportation cycling; and whether changing these micro-environmental factors has the same effect across different street settings. Fifth and sixth grade children and their parents (N=305) from twelve randomly selected primary schools in Flanders, Belgium were surveyed. The evenness of the cycle path and lower automobile speed limits had the largest effect on children’s cycling for active transport; while the degree of separation (bike lane or path and roadway) and lower speed limit had the largest effect for their parents. 
  • Assessing modes and frequency of commuting to school in youngsters: a systematic review (abstract), Herrador-Colmenero M, Pérez-García M, Ruiz J and Chillón P, Pediatric Exercise Science, Volume 26, Number 3 (2014).
  • Association between active commuting and incident cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality: prospective cohort study, Celis-Morales C, Lyall D, Welsh P, Anderson J, Steell L, Guo Y, Maldonado R, Mackay D Pell J, Sattar N and Gill J, British Medical Journal, Volume 357 (2017). Data was collected from 263,450 participants (52% women and 48% men) in the United Kingdom who used walking, cycling, or a mixed mode of active transport (i.e. non-motorised) to commute to/from work on a regular basis. The results showed that using either walking or cycling to commute to work was associated with a lower risk of cardio-vascular disease.
  • Associations between active school transport and physical activity, body composition, and cardiovascular fitness: A systematic review of 68 studies (abstract), Larouche R, Saunders T, Faulkner G, Colley R and Tremblay M, Journal of Physical Activity & Health, Volume 11, Issue 1 (2014). The majority of studies found that active school travelers were more active throughout the day. However, the quality of evidence was moderate regarding the associations between active school transport and body composition indicators and between walking to/from school and cardiovascular fitness. Overall studies with relevant measures found a positive association between cycling to/from school and cardiovascular fitness. These findings suggest that active school transport should be promoted to increase physical activity levels in children and adolescents.
  • Beyond the bubble-wrap: Understanding parents’ fears in allowing their children to play and travel independently (PDF  - 607 KB), VicHealth (2014). Many people think that today’s parents are too worried about their children’s safety and aren’t giving their children opportunities for healthy growth and development. Overly fearful parenting has been suggested as contributing, among other things, to declining levels of independent physical activity in children and high rates of childhood obesity. When asked why they don’t allow their children to walk or ride to school, parents often say they’re worried about safety, especially traffic risks and the risk of harm from strangers. To investigate the role that parental fear plays in shaping children’s independence and physical activity, and find solutions to help parents give their children greater freedom, VicHealth commissioned a three-year study (2012 to 2015) by La Trobe University’s Parenting Research Centre. This report summarises the interim results; key considerations include: (1) Children learn how to be safe in their neighbourhood through practice. (2) In families surveyed, 52% of children travelled to school by car, while 19% walked, 5% cycled and 24% travelled by public transport. Most children travelled to school with a parent or other adult (64%), although 36% travelled to school independently, either alone or with other children. (3) The research team developed two reliable measures to assess parental concerns and fear about children’s safety when travelling or playing unsupervised by adults in their neighbourhood - ‘General Parental Fear’ that assesses parental concerns about children’s safety when children are without adult supervision, and; ‘Parental Fear of Strangers’ that assesses fear of harm to children from strangers. (4) Whether children were allowed to travel to school independently was related to how worried parents were about harm from strangers. (5) Parents’ have fewer concerns as children get older. The preliminary findings suggest that once children reach the pre-teen years (11 to 13 years), parental fear doesn’t have as much influence on how children travel to school. (6) Children aged 11-13 years who walked or rode to school were more likely than children who were driven or took public transport to meet the physical activity guidelines on week days.
  • Bicycle injuries and helmet use: A systematic review and meta-analysis (abstract), Olivier J and Creighton P, International Journal of Epidemiology, published online ahead of print (22 July 2016). This systematic review of literature summarises studies assessing bicycle helmet effectiveness to mitigate head, face, neck, and fatal head injury resulting from a bicycle crash or fall. Helmet use was associated with significant reductions for head, face, and fatal head injury. However, no clear evidence of an association between helmet use and neck injury was found. These results support the use of strategies that increase the use of bicycle helmets as part of a comprehensive cycling safety plan.
  • Challenges for sport development: Women's entry level cycling participation, Rowe K, Shilbury D, Ferkins L and Hinckson E, Sport Management Review, Volume 19, Issue 4 (2016). Cycling participation takes on many formats – including sport, recreational, and commuter cycling. In Australia, women are underrepresented in cycling participation in all formats, yet there is great interest in the physical activity benefits of cycling among women. This research explores motivations, supports and constraints reported by a group of entry-level female cyclists who participated in a training program accredited by AustCycle, and led by Cycling Australia (i.e. the national governing body for the sport of cycling). Interviews were conducted with 33 adult females (age 24 to 76 years) participating in an AustCycle course designed to increase their skill and confidence in recreational cycling. Participants were asked to discuss their past and current participation experiences and interest in different forms of cycling, and to outline factors that motivated, supported or constrained their participation. Over half of the participants identified themselves as recreational cyclists, with nine women engaged in commuter cycling. General participation motivations that were common to both forms of cycling were exercise for health, enjoyment, and empowerment. Commuter cycling motivations also emphasised saving time and money and environmental concerns. A number of constraints were identified, including – access to cycling paths, security, end-of-trip facilities, lighting, and motor vehicle traffic and driving culture. Similarly, skills were of major concern to participants, with most explaining that they did not feel skillful enough to ride safely before commencing a cycling training program. These women seemed to feel that cycling as an adult was more complex and challenging than as a child, with environments and poorer fitness and skills to contend with as adults. The authors concluded that cycling infrastructure, traffic and safety concerns are key barriers for women as they take up cycling. Because Cycling Australia in many ways, is removed from infrastructure decision-making, they can only lobby for better conditions. However, Cycling Australia and other community groups can address other concerns reported by adult women – mainly their lack of cycling skill, knowledge, and confidence, as well as a lack of structured social support networks to encourage cycling participation.
  • Changes in mode of travel to work: a natural experimental study of new transport infrastructure, Heinen E, Panter J, Mackett R and Ogilvie D, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 12, published online (20 June 2015). The provision of suitable transport infrastructure may promote a shift towards active travel, thereby improving population health. This study examined the effect of a major transport infrastructure project on commuters’ mode of travel, trip frequency and distance travelled to work. A cohort of 470 adults working in Cambridge, UK, were surveyed between 2009 and 2012 to determine if new transportation infrastructure; the opening of a guided busway which also included a path for walking and cycling; would change their transportation behaviour. Proximity to the busway predicted an increase of commute trips involving active travel (walking and cycling) and a large decrease in the number of trips made entirely by car. Further analysis may show the extent to which mode of transport can affect health status.
  • Co-benefits of designing communities for active living: an exploration of literature, Sallis J, et.al., International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 12 (2015). This paper explores a wide range of literature and provides an initial summary of evidence on the co-benefits of physical activity-friendly urban environments. An extensive but non-systematic review of the ‘gray’ literature was also conducted. Five physical activity settings were defined: (1) parks and open space; (2) urban design - street connectivity; (3) transportation; (4) schools, and; (5) workplaces. Each setting had strong evidence of at least three co-benefits of good design and the potential to contribute to environmental sustainability and economic benefits. Specific environmental features with the strongest evidence of multiple co-benefits were park proximity to residential neighborhoods, mixed land use, trees/greenery, accessibility and street connectivity, and building design. There is substantial evidence that designing community environments that make physical activity more attractive and convenient is likely to improve population health and produce significant economic benefits.
  • Cycling in Cities research program, University of British Columbia, Canada. This study examined the association between bicyclists’ injuries and the cycling environment (e.g., route types, intersection types). The study collected data from the cities of Toronto and Vancouver during 2008 and 2009 and compared the route characteristics at injury sites to randomly selected control sites. The safest route features were: (1) cycle tracks (i.e. bike lanes separated from the roadway); (2) residential street bike routes (i.e. marked for motor traffic diversion); (3) bike lanes on major streets with no parked cars; and (4) routes where vehicle speeds were under 30 km/h at intersections.  The study found that route features that increased risk included: (1) train or tram tracks; (2) downhill grades; (3) construction zones; (4) shared car and bike lanes; (5) roundabouts; and (6) arriving at intersections opposite to traffic.
  • Driving down daily step counts: the impact of being driven to school on physical activity and sedentary behavior (PDF  - 105 KB), Trapp G, Giles-Corti B, Christian H, Timperio A, McCormack G, Bulsara M, Villanueva K, Pediatric Exercise Science, Volume 25, Issue 3 (2013). This study investigated whether being driven to school was associated with lower weekday and weekend step counts, less physical activity during out-of-school time, and more sedentary behaviour. Primary school age children from 25 Australian schools participated by wearing a pedometer and completing a travel diary for one week; information was also captured from parents’ survey of leisure activity and screen time. Results from this study showed that children who were driven to school recorded significantly fewer weekday steps than those who walked and participated in fewer active leisure activities. However, there were no differences in weekend steps or screen time.
  • Employer schemes to encourage walking to work: Feasibility study incorporating an exploratory randomised controlled trial (abstract), Audrey S, Procter S, Cooper A, Mutrie N, Hollingworth W, Davis A, Kipping R, Insall P, Garfield K and Campbell R, Public Health Research, Number 3.4 (2015). A Walk to Work feasibility study found that workplace-based interventions were both feasible and acceptable to participants. There was sufficient evidence from the trial to justify a full-scale study, incorporating the lessons learned during the feasibility study of eight workplaces (187 employees) in Bristol, England. Walk to Work promoters were recruited within each workplace and trained about the health, social, economic and environmental benefits of walking to work and how to identify and promote safe walking routes for employees. They were given resource packs based on nine key behaviour change techniques. The role of the Walk to Work promoter was to encourage participating employees; help to identify suitable walking routes; encourage goal setting; and to provide additional encouragement. At the one-year follow-up, 71% of participants were still engaged in walking to work. Accelerometer data suggests that overall physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity were higher in the intervention group than in the control group. 
  • Evaluation of the Veloway 1: A natural experiment of new bicycle infrastructure in Brisbane, Australia (abstract), Heesch K, James B, Washington T, Zuniga K and Burke M, Journal of Transport & Health, published online ahead of print (7 July 2016). This study examined the behavioural impact of a new segment of a dedicated bikeway (Veloway 1, Stage C) that links southern suburbs with Brisbane city centre. Survey data showed that, pre-to-post V1 Stage C, those using the V1 were travelling longer distances and were more committed to making their trip by bicycle. The findings suggest that veloways like the V1 can attract new cyclists travelling from outer suburbs into a city centre.
  • Feasibility and effectiveness of drop-off spots to promote walking to school (PDF  - 273 KB), Vanwolleghem G, D’Haese S, Van Dyck D, De Bourdeaudhuij I and Cardon G, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 11 (2014). Drop-off spots are locations in the proximity of a primary school where parents can drive their child to a location. From a drop-off spot children can then walk to and from school to receive additional daily physical activity. This pilot study investigated the feasibility and effectiveness of drop-off spots located approximately 0.8km from school and evaluated how drop-off spots are perceived by school principals, teachers and parents of 6-to-12-year old children. This pilot study showed that implementing drop-off spots can be an effective intervention to promote children’s walking; although motivating teachers and involving volunteers may be required to effectively implement a program.
  • Gender differences in walking (for leisure, transport and in total) across adult life: a systematic review, Pollard T and Wagnild J, BMC Public Health, Volume 17 (2017). This systematic review examined gender differences in walking for leisure, transport and in total in adults living in high-income countries, and assessed whether gender differences in walking practices change across the life-course. Publications dated 1995 to 2015 were examined. There was consistent evidence that more women than men walk for leisure, although effect sizes were small. However, this effect varies by age, with more younger women than younger men walking for leisure. The gender difference diminishes with age and appears to reverse in the oldest age groups. Taking all ages together, there was no consistent gender difference in walking for transport or in total walking, although the small number of studies reporting on walking to undertake errands suggested that more women than men walk for this purpose. These findings suggest that there are consistent gender differences in participation in walking for some purposes.
  • Impact of changes in mode of travel to work on changes in body mass index: evidence from the British Household Panel Survey, Martin A, Panter J, Suhrcke M and Ogilvie D, Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, published online ahead of print (7 May 2015). Active commuting is associated with various health benefits. This study used cohort data from three consecutive waves of the British Household Panel Survey to compare persons who reported their usual main mode of travel to work as cycling or walking and commuters using other modes of transport. After adjustment for socioeconomic and health-related covariates, the analysis showed that switching from private motor transport to active travel was associated with a significant reduction in body mass index, compared with continued private motor vehicle use. 
  • Incidental physical activity in Melbourne, Australia: health and economic impacts of mode of transport and suburban location (abstract), Beavis M and Moodie M, Health Promotion Journal of Australia, Volume 25, Number 3 (2014). This research analysed the levels of incidental physical activity (PA) in Melbourne. After determining key behavioural associations, economic modeling estimated the potential long-term health and economic benefits of changes in active transport (AT) patterns. The analysis showed that only 15% of individuals had adequate incidental PA. Private vehicle users averaged 10 minutes of PA, public transport users 35 minutes, and walkers/cyclists 38 minutes daily. Distance from city centre was inversely related to adequate PA and public transport users, walkers and cyclists living closer to the city centre were more likely to gain travel-related physical activity sufficient for health benefits. Conservative modeling of postulated changes in active transport patterns in Melbourne estimated that annual reduction of about 115,000 new cases of lifestyle related disease could be achieved. This could mean annual savings of $1.5–12.2 million in the health sector and a $2.9–22.9 million increase in productivity.
  • Initiating and maintaining recreational walking: a longitudinal study on the influence of neighborhood green space (abstract) Sugiyama T, Giles-Corti B, Summers J, du Toit L, Leslie E, and Owen N, Preventive Health, Volume 57, Number 3 (2013). Adults living in and around Adelaide, South Australia, were surveyed about their walking habits over a four year period. Among initial non-walkers, 30% initiated a walking program. Among regular walkers, 70% maintained their walking routine over the four year period. No green space attributes were associated with initiating walking; however, the proximity to green spaces within 1.6 kilometre was significantly associated with the likelihood of walking maintenance over four years.
  • Key influences on motivations for utility cycling (cycling for transport to and from places), Heesch K and Sahlqvist S, Health Promotion Journal of Australia, Volume 24, Number 3 (2013). This study aimed to qualitatively document the lived experiences of Queensland cyclists who regularly use cycling as a means to get to-and-from places and compare their motivation with non-utility cyclists (i.e. those who cycle only for sport or recreation). The study concluded that built environments (i.e. bikeway connectivity, bike tracks and designated bicycle lanes) provide motivation for people to engage more often in utility cycling. The authors suggest that additional government strategies and more and better cycling infrastructure, would support utility cycling beyond commuter cycling and may encourage a culture of utility cycling.
  • Large-scale physical activity data reveal worldwide activity inequality. Tim Althoff et.al., Nature, (published online 10 July 2017). The study looked at data from smartphones with built-in accelerometry to measure physical activity at the global scale. The dataset consisted of 68 million days of physical activity for 717,527 people, giving a window into activity in 111 countries across the globe. It found significant inequality in how activity is distributed within countries and that this inequality is a better predictor of obesity prevalence in the population than average activity volume. Reduced activity in females contributed to a large portion of the observed activity inequality. Aspects of the built environment, such as the walkability of a city, were associated with a smaller gender gap in activity and lower activity inequality. In more walkable cities, activity was greater throughout the day and throughout the week, across age, gender, and body mass index (BMI) groups, with the greatest increases in activity found for females. These findings have implications for global public health policy and urban planning and highlight the role the built environment can have in reducing physical activity inequality and  improving general physical activity and health. 
  • Longitudinal associations of active commuting with wellbeing and sickness absence, Mytton O, Panter J and Ogilvie D, Preventive Medicine, Volume 84 (2016). This study explored the longitudinal associations between active commuting (cycling or walking to work) and sickness and absence from work. Data from the Commuting and Health in Cambridge study was used for 801 subjects over a three year period. After adjusting for socio-demographic variables, other physical activity and physical limitations, those who maintained cycle commuting reported lower sickness absence (equivalent to one less day per year) and higher mental wellbeing than those who did not cycle to work. No significant associations were observed for walking.
  • New home, new prognosis? Reduced hypertension risk after moving to a high-walkability neighbourhood, Averett N, Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 124, Issue 6 (2016). This research looked at the impact of the built environment on health. Using cross-sectional data, residents of Ontario, Canada (N=1057), who moved from a low-walkability neighborhood to a high-walkability neighborhood were studied and compared to residents who moved from one low-walkability neighbourhood to another. Those who move from low-to-high were 54% less likely of developing hypertension than those who moved from one low-walkability neighborhood to another.
  • Neighborhood environments and objectively measured physical activity in 11 countries, Cerin E, et.al., Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, Volume 46, Issue 12 (2014). Environmental conditions potentially influence population-level physical activity (PA) promotion strategies. This study, conducted in 16 cities located in 11 countries, provides robust multisite evidence to guide international action for developing activity-supportive environments. Data was collected on perceived environmental attributes and PA was objectively measured by accelerometry to determine weekly minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Most perceived neighborhood attributes were positively associated with PA outcomes and aesthetics and land use were significant predictors of PA outcomes. Residents' perceptions of neighborhood attributes that facilitate walking were positively associated with MVPA levels meeting the guidelines for health benefits. Associations were similar across study sites, lending support for international recommendations for designing PA-friendly built environments that facilitate walking.
  • New walking and cycling routes and increased physical activity: one and two-year findings from the UK iConnect Study, Goodman A, Sahlqvist S and Ogilvie D, American Journal of Public Health, Volume 104, Number 9 (2014). This study looked at the extent to which infrastructure improvements may increase the incidence of walking and cycling. The results demonstrate that people living within close proximity to good infrastructure are more likely to engage in physical activity. This highlights the importance in providing adequate community access to improved facilities.
  • Normative steps/day and peak cadence values for United States children and  adolescents: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006, Barreira T, Schuna J, Mire E, Broyles S, Katzmarzyk P, Johnson W and Tudor-Locke C, The Journal of Pediatrics, published online (11 October 2014). The study included 2610 American young people aged between 6 and 19 years whose data was collected between 2005 and 2006. The peak 60-minute cadence represented the highest 60 minutes of accumulated steps, which were not necessarily consecutive. This data was gathered using an accelerometer and calculated by ranking each minute of accelerometer wear time based upon steps per minute values, and then calculating the mean for the highest minutes per day. The results show that the number of steps taken per day was inversely associated with age among both genders, though the trend was more prominent in female participants. Overall, reductions ranged between 3000 and 4500 steps per day between the first and last age categories. This means that adolescents (in this sample of the population) tend to walk less than children.
  • Perceived barriers to children’s active commuting to school: a systematic review of empirical, methodological and theoretical evidence (PDF  - 642 KB), Lu W, McKyer E, Lee C, Goodson P, Ory M and Wang S, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 11 (2014). Active transport (walking or cycling) to school may increase children’s daily physical activity and help them maintain a healthy weight. Previous studies have identified various perceived barriers. This review critically assesses the current literature on perceived barriers to children’s active transport to school and provides a number of recommendations for future research.
  • Physical activity in relation to urban environments in 14 cities worldwide: a cross-sectional study, Sallis J, Cerin E, Conway T, Adams M, et.al., The Lancet, published online ahead of print (1 April 2016). This study documents how objectively measured attributes of the urban environment are related to objectively measured physical activity, in an international sample of adults (N=6822) from 14 cities in 10 countries. Four environmental attributes were significantly, positively, and linearly related to physical activity: (1) net residential density; (2) intersection density; (3) public transport density, and; (4) number of parks. The difference in physical activity between participants living in the most and least activity-friendly cities ranged from 68 min/week to 89 min/week, which represents about half of the recommended weekly physical activity for adults.
  • Physical activity when riding an electric assisted bicycle, Berntsen S, Malnes L, Langaker A and Bere E, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 14 (2017). This study compared time spent cycling and time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) when cycling on an E-bike and a conventional bicycle over two different ‘cycling-to-work’ routes, one hilly (7.1 km) and the other flat (8.2 km). Riding an E-bike resulted in shorter trip duration; 26% less time on the hilly route and 17% less on the flat route. This meant less time at MVPA exercise intensity on an E-bike compared with the conventional bicycle. Overall, using an E-bike significantly increased the level of daily physical activity among participants’, this suggests that changing the mode of commuting to work from car to E-bike may provide beneficial health outcomes.
  • Reaching the Goal of 60 Minutes of Physical Activity for Children (PDF  - 105 KB), Bassett D, Active Living Research, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, research brief (February 2013). The key finding of this study was that schools and communities can reach the 60-minute per day goal of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in several ways. Three primary ways are recommended: (1) walking or biking to school as active transport; (2) mandatory daily physical education at school and; (3) regular classroom physical activity breaks.
  • Systematic review and meta-analysis of reduction in all-cause mortality from walking and cycling and shape of dose response relationship, Kelly P, Kahlmeier S, Gotschi T, Orsini N, Richards J, Roberts N, Scarborough P and Foster C, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 11 (2014). Walking and cycling produce beneficial effects on population risk of all-cause mortality. This paper reviews the evidence and quantifies these effects, adjusted for other physical activity (PA). This systematic review extracted data from 18 walking studies and 8 cycling studies on: population and location; sample size; population characteristics (age and sex); follow-up in years; walking or cycling exposure (frequency and accumulated volume); mortality outcome, and; adjustments were made for other co-variables. A random-effects meta-analysIs was used to estimate the beneficial effects of regular walking and cycling. The analysis shows that walking and cycling have population-level health benefits, even after adjustment for other forms of PA. Public health approaches aimed at increasing population PA would have the biggest impact if they targeted groups that have the lowest levels of PA.
  • Travel and the built environment: a meta-analysis (abstract), Ewing R and Cervero R, Journal of the American Planning Association, Volume 76, Issue 3 (2010). This meta-analysis of studies from the built environment-travel literature is used to draw generalizable conclusions about current practice. This analysis attempts to quantify the relationship between different built environmental factors and travel activity.
  • Travel to work and self-reported stress: Findings from a workplace survey in south west Sydney, Rissel C, Petrunoff N, Wen L and Crane M, Journal of Transport & Health, Volume 1, Issue 1 (2014). This research examined the association between self-reported stress and travel mode of commuting to work in an Australian urban context. There were 675 survey respondents, with 14.7% actively commuting (walking, cycling or using public transport). Active commuters reported a lower level of stress (10.3%) compared with car drivers (26.1%). Active travel to work was perceived to be less stressful than car commuting relative to the stress of a work day. These data are among the first in Australia to consider variation in self-reported stress by travel mode.
  • Walkability and walking for transport: Characterizing the built environment using space syntax, Koohsari M, Owen N, Cerin E, Giles-Corti B and Sugiyama T, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 13, published online (24 November 2016). This study examined associations between neighborhood walkability index and walking for transport behaviours. Data were collected from 2544 adults living in various locations around Adelaide, South Australia. The walkability index was the composite score of net residential density, intersection density, land use mix, and net retail area ratio; space syntax walkability was also calculated, based on gross population density and a measure of street integration for each neighborhood. The two walkability indices were highly correlated and positively related to walking for transport behaviours. The concept of space syntax provides another methodology to further understand how urban design influences walking behaviours.
  • Walking and cycling for commuting, leisure and errands: relations with individual characteristics and leisure-time physical activity in a cross-sectional survey (the ACTI-Cités project), Mehdi M, Charreire H, Feuillet T, et.al., International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 12 (2015). Increasing active transport behaviour (walking and cycling) throughout the life-course is a key element of many physical activity promotions designed to improve public health. There is a need to better understand the correlates of specific domains of walking and cycling and to identify at-risk populations for public health interventions. This study assessed self-reported time spent walking and cycling in three specific domains (commuting, leisure time, and errands) among 39,295 French adult, 76.5 % of them women. The analysis also investigated the associations between socio-demographic and physical activity correlates. The use of public transport was positively associated with walking for commuting and for errands, but was unrelated to walking for leisure or to all domains of cycling. Body mass index (BMI) was inversely associated (e.g. low BMI associated with high active transport) with both walking for leisure and errands, and with the three domains of cycling. Walking and cycling for commuting was positively associated with the other domains (e.g. leisure and errands). This study concluded that in adults, walking and cycling socio-demographic and physical activity correlates may differ by domain.
  • Walking and cycling international literature review: Final report (PDF  - 3.3 MB), Krizek K, Forsyth A and Baun L, Victorian Government, Department of Transport (2009). This report provides a broad overview of the factors that serve to promote or act as barriers to walking and cycling. Almost 500 published items; reports, articles and papers have been scanned. The results include combined themes as well as those specific to walking and cycling.
  • What are the health benefits of active travel? A systematic review of trials and cohort studies, Saunders L, Green J, Petticrew M, Steinbach R and Roberts H, Plos One, published online (15 August 2015). Increasing walking and cycling has been widely advocated as a way of increasing physical activity to achieve health benefits. This study aimed to assess the evidence that active travel has significant health benefits. Twenty-four studies from 12 countries were included in this review, of which six were studies that focused on children. This review concluded that active travel may have positive effects on health outcomes, but there is a lack of rigour amongst most studies. Future evaluations of intervention programs should include greater depth in the assessment of the impacts on obesity and other health outcomes.
  • Whether is not significantly correlated with destination-specific transport-related physical activity among adults: A large-scale temporally matched analysis, Durand C, Zhang K and Salvo D, Preventive Medicine, published online ahead of print (31 May 2017). Data (N = 42,000 households) were sourced from the California Household Travel Survey, collected in 2012-3. Weather variables included relative humidity, temperature, wind speed, and precipitation. Results indicate statistically non-significant correlations between the weather variables and transport-related (walking) physical activity. This is the strongest evidence to date that transport-related physical activity may occur relatively independently of weather conditions.

Reading

  • Contested spaces: A user’s guide to shared paths, Rachele J, The Conversation (8 March 2017). Evidence suggests that transport modes, including walking and cycling, should be separated wherever possible. However, this isn’t always the case. In all Australian states; except Victoria and New South Wales (unless the rider is under 12 years of age or accompanying someone who is; cyclists are allowed on footpaths. This effectively makes every footpath a shared path. This article discusses the urban etiquette of shared paths. The golden rule of shared paths is that the person in the less vulnerable position should be mindful of the more vulnerable user.
  • The crisis in American walking: How we got off the pedestrian path, Vanderbilt T, Slate, published online (10 April 2012). The author highlights evidence to support the premise that the decline in walking has become a major health problem in the United States. In a four part series the author identifies the problem and discusses the underlying causes.
  • Mandatory bicycle helmet laws in Australia: is it time for a change? Rachele J, Badland H  and Rissel C, Croakey, published online (16 March 2017). A 2011 survey, conducted by The National Heart Foundation and the Cycling Promotion Fund, found that 60% of respondents had access to a bicycle, but only 17.3% of bike owners had ridden in the past month. Also, the evidence is clear that helmeted cyclists are less likely to acquire a head injury in the event of a collision with a motor vehicle or a fall. However, the utility of wearing a helmet comes down to the risk of a collision with a motor vehicle or fall occurring: a helmet will not prevent the rider from being hit by a motor vehicle, or falling from their bicycle. A study conducted in NSW tracked 2038 cyclists over a 48 week period; where 682,248 kilometers (km) were travelled, with 198 collisions or falls, including 16 requiring medical attention. This means that a cyclist would average one incident every 3,446 km, or one incident requiring medical attention every 42,641 km. So if a cyclist travels 5km to work and back, 3 times per week (30 km/week), 48 weeks per year, they would average one incident every 2.4 years or one requiring medical attention every 29.6 years. Other studies have shown a long-term decline in cyclist head injuries can be attributed to general road safety improvements, driver education, enforcement of speed limits, road improvements (i.e. cycle lanes) and random breath testing of motor vehicle operators. Studies from other jurisdictions that have compared mandatory and optional helmet regulations (such as in Canadian Provinces) have found minimal reductions in rates of hospital admission for head injuries among cyclists. Furthermore, an Australia-wide survey of cycling behaviour conducted by the Cycling Promotion Fund found as many as one in six cyclists cited helmets as a barrier to cycling more often. A Queensland Government inquiry into cycling issues has recommended a trial of relaxing mandatory helmet laws for those aged 16 years and older who are cycling on shared paths, bike paths, and on roads with speed limits of 60 km/hour or less.
  • Planning for Healthy Communities, Planning Institute of Australia – Position Statement (2016). Planners and urban designers need to creatively and collectively address the sedentary lifestyle of our communities. There is a growing body of evidence that clearly demonstrates the link between healthy communities and the planning, design and management of the built environment. The Planning Institute of Australia supports a platform of action in five areas: (1) leadership; (2) education; (3) collaboration and partnership; (4) evidence-based decision making, and; (5)community engagement.

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