Longitudinal associations between built environment characteristics and changes in active commuting

Change log
Yang, L 
Griffin, SJ 
Khaw, K-T 
Wareham, NJ 

Background: Few studies have assessed the predictors of changes in commuting. This study investigated the associations between physical environmental characteristics and changes in active commuting. Methods: Adults from the population-based European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk cohort self-reported commuting patterns in 2000 and 2007. Active commuters were defined as those who reported ‘always’ or ‘usually’ walking or cycling to work. Environmental attributes around the home and route were assessed using Geographical Information Systems. Associations between potential environmental predictors and uptake and maintenance of active commuting were modelled using logistic regression, adjusting for age, sex and BMI. Results: Of the 2757 participants (62% female, median baseline age: 52, IQR: 50-56 years), most were passive commuters at baseline (76%, n = 2099) and did not change their usual commute mode over 7 years (82%, n = 2277). In multivariable regression models, participants living further from work were less likely to take up active commuting and those living in neighbourhoods with more streetlights were more likely to take up active commuting (both p < 0.05). Findings for maintenance were similar: participants living further from work (over 10 km, OR: 0.06; 95% CI: 0.25 to 0.13) and had a main or secondary road on route were more likely to maintain their active commuting (OR: 0.52; 95% CI: 0.28 to 0.98). Those living in neighbourhoods with greater density of employment locations were less likely to maintain their active commuting. Conclusions: Co-locating residential and employment centres as well as redesigning urban areas to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists may encourage active commuting. Future evaluative studies should seek to assess the effects of redesigning the built environment on active commuting and physical activity.

Active commuting, EPIC-Norfolk, Environment, GIS, Longitudinal, Travel, Bicycling, Diagnostic Self Evaluation, Employment, Environment Design, Female, Geographic Information Systems, Health Behavior, Health Promotion, Housing, Humans, Logistic Models, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Middle Aged, Pedestrians, Prospective Studies, Safety, Self Report, Self-Assessment, Surveys and Questionnaires, Transportation, Walking
Journal Title
BMC Public Health
Conference Name
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
BioMed Central
Medical Research Council (G0401527)
Medical Research Council (G1000143)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/4)
Medical Research Council (MR/K025147/1)
Medical Research Council (MR/K023187/1)
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/G007462/1)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/6)
TCC (None)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/1)
Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (NF-SI-0512-10135)
Medical Research Council (MR/N003284/1)
The EPIC–Norfolk study is supported by programme grants from the Medical Research Council (G1000143) and Cancer Research UK (C864/A14136), with additional support from the Stroke Association, British Heart Foundation, Research Into Ageing, and the Academy of Medical Science. The funding body had no role in the design of the study and collection, analysis, and interpretation of data or in writing the manuscript.