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Impact of New Transport Infrastructure on Walking, Cycling, and Physical Activity.

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Heinen, Eva 
Mackett, Roger 


INTRODUCTION: Walking and cycling bring health and environmental benefits, but there is little robust evidence that changing the built environment promotes these activities in populations. This study evaluated the effects of new transport infrastructure on active commuting and physical activity. STUDY DESIGN: Quasi-experimental analysis nested within a cohort study. SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Four hundred and sixty-nine adult commuters, recruited through a predominantly workplace-based strategy, who lived within 30 kilometers of Cambridge, United Kingdom and worked in areas of the city to be served by the new transport infrastructure. INTERVENTION: The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway opened in 2011 and comprised a new bus network and a traffic-free walking and cycling route. Exposure to the intervention was defined using the shortest distance from each participant's home to the busway. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Change in weekly time spent in active commuting between 2009 and 2012, measured by validated 7-day recall instrument. Secondary outcomes were changes in total weekly time spent walking and cycling and in recreational and overall physical activity, measured using the validated Recent Physical Activity Questionnaire. Data were analyzed in 2014. RESULTS: In multivariable multinomial regression models--adjusted for potential sociodemographic, geographic, health, and workplace confounders; baseline active commuting; and home or work relocation-exposure to the busway was associated with a significantly greater likelihood of an increase in weekly cycle commuting time (relative risk ratio=1.34, 95% CI=1.03, 1.76) and with an increase in overall time spent in active commuting among the least active commuters at baseline (relative risk ratio=1.76, 95% CI=1.16, 2.67). The study found no evidence of changes in recreational or overall physical activity. CONCLUSIONS: Providing new sustainable transport infrastructure was effective in promoting an increase in active commuting. These findings provide new evidence to support reconfiguring transport systems as part of public health improvement strategies.



Adult, Bicycling, Cohort Studies, Environment Design, Exercise, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Recreation, Residence Characteristics, Time Factors, Transportation, United Kingdom, Walking

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Am J Prev Med

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Elsevier BV
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/G007462/1)
Medical Research Council (MR/K023187/1)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/6)
Wellcome Trust (087636/Z/08/Z)
TCC (None)
NIHR Evaluation Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (09/3001/06)
JP is supported by a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) post-doctoral fellowship (PDF- 2012-05-157). EH is supported by an NIHR Public Health Research project grant (see below) and DO is supported by the Medical Research Council [Unit Programme number MC_UP_12015/6]. RM is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The Commuting and Health in Cambridge Study was initially funded under the auspices of the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Funding from the British Heart Foundation, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged. The study is now funded by the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research programme (project number 09/3001/06). The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR PHR programme or the Department of Health