Can we promote walking as urban transport?

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Abstract

Our research examined the acceptability and effectiveness of a Walk to Work programme in urban workplaces. We conducted a feasibility study and a full-scale randomised controlled trial focusing on the context, implementation and response to an intervention to promote walking during the commute. The 10-week intervention involved training workplace-based Walk to Work promoters to encourage colleagues to increase walking during the journey to and from work. Interviews were conducted with a sample of employers, Walk to Work promoters and employees. During the feasibility study a range of employer perspectives were identified, from active support through uncertainty and cynicism, to resistance. In the main trial, 654 employees from 87 workplaces in south-west England and south Wales provided information about their commute through wearing accelerometers and Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers and completing travel diaries and questionnaires. In comparison to car users, walkers accrued substantially higher levels of daily Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) during the commute (34.3±18.6 vs. 7.4±7.6 minutes, p<0.001) and throughout the day (71.4±21.3 vs. 45.7±20.9 minutes, p<0.001). There was strong evidence that walking to work was associated with a commute distance of less than two kilometres (p<0.001) and the absence of free work car parking (p<0.01). We conclude that walking to work could be an important contributor to urban transport and physical activity levels for working adults. However, attempts to increase walking as urban transport need to take account of individual and workplace circumstances, and wider transport policies. This includes commuting distances, availability of car parking and perceptions of commuting routes. Supporting walking during the daily commute should be a priority for transport, urban planning and public health disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUrban Transport XXIV
Subtitle of host publicationUrban Transport and the Environment 2018
Editors[given name] F.A.Ortega Riejos
PublisherWITPress
Pages327-338
Number of pages12
Volume182
ISBN (Print)9781784662998
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2019
EventUrban Transport 2018: 24th International Conference on Urban Transport and the Environment - University of Seville, Seville, Spain
Duration: 19 Sep 201821 Sep 2018
https://www.wessex.ac.uk/conferences/2018/urban-transport-2018

Publication series

NameWIT Transactions on The Built Environment
PublisherWIT Press
Volume182
ISSN (Print)1743-3509

Conference

ConferenceUrban Transport 2018
CountrySpain
CitySeville
Period19/09/1821/09/18
Internet address

Keywords

  • Active travel
  • Behavioural intervention
  • Commuting
  • Physical activity
  • Walking
  • Workplace

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