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Local walking and cycling by residents living near urban motorways: cross-sectional analysis

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Powers, Eleanor F. J.  ORCID logo
Panter, Jenna 
Ogilvie, David 
Foley, Louise 


Abstract: Background: Everyday activities, such as walking or cycling, may be a feasible and practical way to integrate physical activity into everyday life. Walking and cycling for transport or recreation in the area local to a person’s home may have additional benefits. However, urban planning tends to prioritise car use over active modes. We explored the cross-sectional association between living near an urban motorway and local walking and cycling. Methods: In 2013, residents living in an area (a) near a new urban motorway (M74), (b) near a longstanding urban motorway (M8), or (c) without a motorway, in Glasgow, Scotland, were invited to complete postal surveys assessing local walking and cycling journeys and socio-demographic characteristics. Using adjusted regression models, we assessed the association between motorway proximity and self-reported local walking and cycling, as well as the count of types of destination accessed. We stratified our analyses according to study area. Results: One thousand three hundred forty-three residents (57% female; mean age: 54 years; SD: 16 years) returned questionnaires. There was no overall association between living near an urban motorway and the likelihood of local walking or cycling, or the number of types of local destination accessed by foot or bicycle. In stratified analyses, for those living in the area around the new M74 motorway, increasing residential proximity to the motorway was associated with lower likelihood of local recreational walking and cycling (OR 0.63, 95% CI: 0.39 to 1.00) a pattern not found in the area with the longstanding M8 motorway. In the area near the M8 motorway residential proximity was statistically significantly (p = 0.014) associated with a 12% decrease in the number of types of destination accessed, a pattern not found in the M74 study area. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that associations between living near a motorway and local walking and cycling behaviour may vary by the characteristics of the motorway, and by whether the behaviour is for travel or recreation. The lack of associations seen in the study area with no motorway suggests a threshold effect whereby beyond a certain distance from a motorway, additional distance makes no difference.



Research Article, Health behavior, health promotion and society, Active travel, Roads, Motorway, Walking, Cycling, Severance, Infrastructure

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BMC Public Health

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BioMed Central
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/6, ES/G007462/1, MR/K023187/1, G106/ 1203)
National Institute for Health Research (11/3005/07, ES/G007462/1, MR/K023187/1)
Wellcome Trust (087636/Z/08/Z, MR/K023187/1)
British Heart Foundation (ES/G007462/1, MR/K023187/1)
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/G007462/1, MR/K023187/1)