Transit and Health: Mode of Transport, Employer-Sponsored Public Transit Pass Programs, and Physical Activity

Source: Ugo Lachapelle and Lawrence D. Frank, Journal of Public Health Policy, April 2009

Mounting evidence reveals a significant association between walking and neighborhood design (i.e., the presence or absence of intersecting streets or sidewalks, and proximity of homes to schools, parks, and shopping), although causality has yet to be established. To date, little research has assessed the relationships between transit use and walking, the importance of transit use as a potential confounder of neighborhood walkability (i.e., how friendly the built environment is for people to live in and conduct daily activities), and the impact of transportation incentive programs or Travel Demand Management on walking for transportation. Because transit trips (e.g., by bus or train) often involve walking, transit users may be more likely to meet the recommended levels of physical activity regardless of their neighborhood of residence. Moreover, it is likely that the provision of good quality transit service is a necessary condition to reduce high levels of car ownership, which discourages active transportation (e.g., walking or bicycling). Once someone has a car, the habit of driving may reduce the frequency of transit and non-motorized trips. The current study evaluates transit use and employer-sponsored public transit passes and their relationship to achieving recommended levels of physical activity through walking for transportation.

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