JTH – Abstracts: 2014 – Volume 1 – Issue 4

2014 – Volume 1 – Issue 4

The marginalisation of bicycling in Modernist urban transport planning

Abstract

This article deals with the scientific factors that have contributed to the dominance of motorised transport and the development of theoretical approaches in transport planning. Connections are made to modernism and to the theories within the field of transport planning that have created today׳s transport systems. Connections are then made to the field of bicycle planning. It is argued that there is a lack of theoretical research in bicycle planning that built on empirical studies. This has contributed to the bicycle often being marginalised in transport systems. Moreover, it is argued that new theoretical research could have a similar effect on bicycle planning as it has had on motorised transport planning. Although there is theoretical research about bicycling, such as vélomobility research, such research does not tend to theorise about bicycle planning. The idea put forward in this article is that theoretical knowledge from the field of mobility studies could be a first step in that direction. This article draws on the politics of mobility and research in vélomobility and develops a theoretical ground for transport planning that takes bicycling into consideration.

What limits the pedestrian? Exploring perceptions of walking in the built environment and in the context of every-day life

Abstract

Walkability is often researched from the perspective of certain physical features in the built environment. However, for this paper, the point of departure was to also treat walking as a transport mode for reaching destinations and performing every-day activities. A conceptual model addressing both perceptions of the built environment and perceived limits due to every-day activities was used as a standpoint for examining walking behaviour among residents in three neighbourhoods in the city of Malmö, Sweden (N=1001). A principal component analysis for the variables addressing the aspects of the model revealed a resemblance with our theoretical interpretation. The obtained components’ relationships with reported walking frequency were examined with binary logistic regression and revealed a significant association for the rating of one factor addressing the perceived limits on walking due to the constraints of every-day activities.

Spatial and social variations in cycling patterns in a mature cycling country exploring differences and trends

Abstract

Despite the Netherlands’ position as a premier cycling country (mainly due to its high cycling mode share), there is scarce insight into the variations of bicycle use between different spatial and social contexts as well as changes and trends over time. This gap severely limits the understanding of the context-specific aspects of cycling trends and hinders the development of effective policies to promote cycling. In order to fill this gap, this paper explores the spatial and social differentiation of cycling patterns and trends in the Netherlands.

First, an overview of the known spatial and social drivers of mobility behaviour in general, and of cycling behaviour in particular, is provided. Next, these insights are used to structure the analysis of data from the Dutch National Travel Survey (NTS). Mobility diaries allowed us to distinguish trends in mobility behaviour across different spatial contexts and social groups.

Our findings revealed three important spatial and social differences in cycling patterns and trends. First, the spatial redistribution of the population towards urban areas (‘re-urbanisation’) has led to increasing aggregated cycling volumes in urban areas, and falling rates in rural areas. Second, the general mode share of cycling is mainly sensitive to changes in the composition of the population, especially elderly persons (higher rates) and immigrants (lower rates). Third, although per capita changes are minor, cycling shares among young adults living in urban areas and elderly baby boomers are growing.

The results emphasizes the need for a differentiated approach to promoting cycling and developing policies that can respond to location- and group-specific threats and opportunities. An awareness of these spatial- and social differences is especially important when cycling is used as policy intervention for public health; some groups and places are likely to profit, while others might remain immune. Additional research is needed to further clarify the drivers behind the observed trends and to fine-tune the intervention strategies.

History, risk, infrastructure: perspectives on bicycling in the Netherlands and the UK

Abstract

Cycling has consistently been safer in the Netherlands than the UK. Nevertheless, safety has improved in both countries over time. Between 1980 and 2011, the cyclists’ fatality rate declined by 67% in the Netherlands and 57% in the UK. Per capita bicycle use was sustained in the Netherlands throughout the post-World War Two era, peaking in the early 1960s and only declining for a decade before recovering. In contrast, UK bicycle use peaked in 1952 and declined permanently. The survival of popular bicycling in the Netherlands through the 1950s and 1960s was fundamental to the development of effective bicycling policies after the 1970s. The Dutch network of cycle tracks and routes increased from 9,000 km in the mid 1970s to approximately 29,000 km currently. The annual distance cycled per capita increased by 30% in the ten years to 1988, but has not materially increased since then. In the UK, cycling has a long heritage as a marginalised form of travel. This continues to hinder efforts to achieve a national cycling revival. Nevertheless, cycling on quiet urban and rural roads in the UK incurs much lower risks than the national average fatality rate would suggest. Networks enabling cyclists to avoid main roads, especially rural A-roads, could provide safety levels comparable to the Netherlands and Denmark. There are towns in the UK with segregated cycling networks, but few cyclists. This is because a range of measures must be invoked to achieve large modal shifts to cycling. Local authority support is a critical factor.

The link between socioeconomic position, access to cycling infrastructure and cycling participation rates: An ecological study in Melbourne, Australia

Abstract
Objective

Promoting cycling has moved up the policy agenda in recent years, but debate still exists surrounding the role played by socioeconomic barriers to participation in low cycling countries. This ecological study aimed to examine whether there are systematic socioeconomic disparities in access to cycling infrastructure and investment in Melbourne, Australia.

Methods

We used Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques to measure the density of on-road, off-road and informal cycling routes in 58 neighbourhoods of inner Melbourne. We examined whether small-area socioeconomic indicators were associated with the density of these three types of cycling infrastructure or with local government spending on cycling. We additionally examined how small-area socioeconomic position and infrastructure density were associated with the prevalence of cycling to work in the 2011 census.

Results

The density of on- and off-road cycling infrastructure was positively associated with cycle modal share (both p<0.0001), and there was no evidence that the strength of this association differed between the two infrastructure types. The density of informal routes was not associated with cycling to work. There was no evidence that small-area socioeconomic position was systematically associated with the presence of on-road or quiet roads cycling infrastructure or with levels of investment. Levels of off-road infrastructure were somewhat higher in richer areas (r=0.32, p=0.02), although much of this was located in parkland and may have a predominant recreational function.

Conclusion

In Melbourne, cycling infrastructure is positively correlated with cycle prevalence and is generally distributed equitably with respect to area-level socioeconomic position. In part this reflects the high levels of cycling infrastructure and spending in some relatively disadvantaged areas. Further studies that seek to understand the drivers behind successful policies in these areas may provide lessons for other areas, and aid our understanding of the complex relationships between cycling infrastructure, cycling behaviour and socioeconomic position.

‘You feel unusual walking’: The invisible presence of walking in four English cities

Abstract

Walking is widely recognised as good for health and for the environment, yet many short journeys in urban areas continue to be undertaken by car. This paper draws on research from a large multi-method project to analyse the factors that limit walking for everyday travel. It is argued that although most people see walking in a positive light, and almost everyone walks on some occasions, as an activity it remains barely visible within society, and is rarely recognised in the planning of urban infrastructure. Our research shows that under current urban conditions constraints imposed by family and life-style factors, perceptions of safety and convenience, and expectations about what means of everyday travel are normal severely restrict levels of walking for many people. We argue that while low levels of walking for particular purposes, especially leisure and health, are common and expected, walking is rarely seen as a visible or viable form of everyday transport. To step outside of these norms of expectation by walking more is constructed as unusual behaviour, and the fact that a substantial amount of walking does take place on urban streets is barely acknowledged. We argue that there is a need to recognise fully the walking that exists, and to plan more effectively to accommodate pedestrians so that walking is perceived as an expected way of moving around urban areas.

Active transport, independent mobility and territorial range among children residing in disadvantaged areas

Abstract

Regular physical activity during childhood and adolescence promotes physical and mental health across the lifespan. Walking and cycling for transport may be important, inexpensive and accessible sources of physical activity among socioeconomically disadvantaged youth. This study aimed to examine active transport and independent mobility (i.e. walking/cycling without adult accompaniment) on journeys to school and other local destinations, and their associations with children׳s physical activity in disadvantaged urban and rural areas of Victoria, Australia. In addition, associations were examined between children׳s perceived accessibility of local destinations by walking/cycling and their territorial range (i.e. how far they were allowed to roam without adult accompaniment).

Survey-reported active transport, independent mobility, territorial range, and objectively-measured physical activity were analysed for 271 children (mean age 12.1 (SD 2.2) years). Habitual travel modes (on 3 or more days/week) were examined. Car travel was most prevalent to (43%) and from (33%) school, while 25% walked to school, 31% walked home, and few cycled (6%). Most walking/cycling trips were made independently. Total weekly duration rather than frequency of active transport to school was positively associated with physical activity. No associations were found between independent mobility and physical activity. Territorial range was restricted – only a third of children were allowed to roam more than 15 min from home alone, while approximately half were allowed to do so with friends. The number of accessible destination types in the neighbourhood was positively associated with territorial range. This research provides evidence of how active transport contributes to children׳s physical activity and a preliminary understanding of children׳s independent mobility on journeys to school and local destinations. Further research is required to explore influences on these behaviours.

An evaluation of distance estimation accuracy and its relationship to transport mode for the home-to-school journey by adolescents

Abstract

Walking is a feasible activity through which individuals can increase their minutes of physical activity. School proximity to residential homes is an important determinant of active commuting. This study tested the accuracy of participant׳s perceived distance in comparison to actual distance travelled to school, by mode of commuting, active or passive. Adolescents completed a questionnaire reporting mode and estimating distance and time taken for their usual trip to school. Subsequently, each participant drew the actual route travelled on a detailed street level map. Only those who lived within a criterion home-to-school distance (2.4 km; N=199, mean age 15.9±0.56, range 15–17 years) were included in the analysis. Passive commuters erroneously thought they travelled significantly further to school than their active peers, no differences were found. Active commuters were accurate in their perception of distance travelled. For passive commuters, the average actual distance (1350 m) travelled to school was significantly shorter than their perception of this distance (2700 m; U=2016.500, p<0.001). Distance is an important perceived barrier to active commuting and a predictor of mode choice among adolescents. Interventions where accurate estimation of distance is taught could ameliorate this barrier and promote active transport choices.

Commentary on an evaluation of distance estimation accuracy and its relationship to transportation mode for the home-to-school journey by adolescents

Abstract

The paper provides a commentary on Woods and Nelson׳s article “An evaluation of distance estimation and accuracy and its relationship to transportation Mode for the home-to-school journey by adolescents.” We elaborate on two points related to the main finding of the article: the importance of understanding perceived barriers within the neighborhood environment, and the role of cognitive and skills development in encouraging active transport amongst children and adolescents.

They go straight home – don’t they? Using global positioning systems to assess adolescent school-travel patterns

Abstract
Background

Active travel to school is a potential source of physical activity for adolescents, but its assessments often rely on assumptions around travel patterns. Global positioning system (GPS) and accelerometry provide an objective assessment of physical activity from school-travel and the context in which it occurs (where, when, how long).

Purpose

To describe school-travel patterns of adolescents and to compare estimates of physical activity during the hour before/after school – a commonly used proxy for school-travel time – with physical activity accrued during school trips identified through GPS (‘GPS-trips’).

Methods

Adolescents (n=49, 13.3±0.7 years, 37% female) from Downtown Vancouver wore an accelerometer (GT3X+) and GPS (Qstarz) for 7 days (October 2012). Minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during the hour before/after school and during GPS-trips were calculated for the n=130 school-trips made by 43 students. We used multilevel linear regression to assess the association between MVPA during GPS-trips and MVPA during the hour/before school.

Results

Only 55% of school-trips were from/to home and within the hour before/after school (‘normal’). Estimates of MVPA during the hour before/after school were higher than during GPS-trips (12.0 vs. 8.0 min). On average, MVPA during GPS-trips was linearly associated with MVPA during the hour before/after school, suggesting that physical activity levels during the hour before/after school are broadly reflective of physical activity from school-travel.

Conclusion

GPS and accelerometry provide context-rich information relating to school-travel. The hour before/after school may – on average – provide a simple means to crudely estimate physical activity from school-travel when GPS are not available.

School travel planning in Canada: Identifying child, family, and school-level characteristics associated with travel mode shift from driving to active school travel

Abstract
Objective

Active School Travel (AST) can significantly contribute to children׳s physical activity levels. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate a Canadian School Travel Planning (STP) intervention, by examining child, family, and school-level characteristics that are associated with mode shift from driving to AST one year post-intervention. A secondary objective was to highlight which STP strategies were deemed effective by parents of those children who switched travel modes to AST.

Methods

Schools (n=103) across Canada participated between January 2010 and March 2012. STP committees implemented strategies to overcome school-specific AST barriers. Mode shift and child/family demographics were assessed by a retrospective, cross-sectional parental survey (n=7827) one year after STP implementation. School level demographics were collected from school administrators. Binomial regression models were applied to examine child, family, and school-level characteristics related to mode shift from driving to AST.

Results

Approximately 17% of the sample reported driving less at one-year follow-up both in the morning and afternoon periods. Among these, the majority switched to AST in the morning (n=1002) and afternoon periods (n=995). Results from the regression analyses showed that students in higher elementary grades, living less than 3 km from school, attending urban and suburban schools, and attending schools situated in a medium income neighborhood were significantly more likely to change travel mode from driving to AST. Approximately 35% of parents reported that infrastructure improvements and safety education were the most effective STP strategies.

Conclusion

The study findings highlight the potential of the STP process in Canada in promoting mode shift from driving to AST. The findings demonstrate STPs may be more effective in some locations where conditions are conducive to mode change. This should inform the development of STP school-selection criteria that may maximize already limited resources by recruiting schools most responsive to STP.

Modelling the potential impact on CO2 emissions of an increased uptake of active travel for the home to school commute using individual level data

Abstract

Active travel for the home to school commute is an ideal opportunity to improve pupil׳s physical activity levels. Many studies have looked at how pupils travel to school and the motivating factors behind these decisions. This paper applies an innovative methodology to model each pupil’s individual route to school and then evaluates how different policy changes could increase the uptake of active travel. The changes are quantified in terms of the proportion using active travel, CO2 emissions and criterion distances: a method of measuring how far pupils are willing to travel using a certain mode of transport. Findings suggest that the greatest reduction in CO2 and increase in health benefits can be made by encouraging more primary school pupils to use active travel and targeting schools with existing low levels of active travel.

Evaluating artificial neural networks for predicting minute ventilation and lung deposited dose in commuting cyclists

Abstract

Evidence linking personal air pollution exposure to adverse human health impacts is well reported in literature. Commuting in urban traffic micro-environments often leads to a large proportion of total daily exposure and uptake. Cyclists in particular, due to their elevated physical exertion levels and ventilatory parameters, experience higher uptakes of air pollution while commuting relative to less active commuters. A model for predicting minute ventilation of cyclist commuters in the field was developed, and PM10 lung deposited doses were predicted based on this. Sixty healthy volunteers were recruited. Minute ventilation, heart rate, personal air pollution exposure, local meteorological conditions, GPS acquired cycling speed and road topography were continuously monitored during sampling protocols. An artificial neural network (ANN) model for predicting minute ventilation was developed based on these variables and subject characteristics. Predicted values were regressed against measured minute ventilation. A Generalised Additive Model (GAM), a Partial Least Squares (PLS) model and three empirical minute ventilation models were tested in the same manner. The ANN, GAM and PLS predicted minute ventilation levels showed better agreement with measured minute ventilation values (R2=0.82, 0.74 and 0.56 respectively) than the empirical models (R2 values ranging from 0.36 to 0.43). The average percentage error of the ANN modelled minute ventilation (2.5±20.2%) was smallest of all models tested. Lung deposited doses of air pollution were calculated using a human respiratory tract model. Doses calculated utilising ANN modelled minute ventilation demonstrated the best agreement with the lung deposited dose determined using measured minute ventilation. Cycling scenarios were investigated in terms of ANN modelled minute ventilation levels and PM10 lung deposited doses. This study presents a novel method of indirectly measuring cyclists׳ breathing rates in an urban outdoor setting and will have applications in assessing accurate air pollution uptake in cyclists in future research.

Variations in active transport behavior among different neighborhoods and across adult life stages

Abstract
Objective

Built environment characteristics are closely related to transport behavior, but observed variations could be due to residents own choice of neighborhood called residential self-selection. The aim of this study was to investigate differences in neighborhood walkability and residential self-selection across life stages in relation to active transport behavior.

Methods

The IPEN walkability index, which consists of four built environment characteristics, was used to define 16 high and low walkable neighborhoods in Aarhus, Denmark (250.000 inhabitants). Transport behavior was assessed using the IPAQ questionnaire. Life stages were categorized in three groups according to age and parental status. A factor analysis was conducted to investigate patterns of self-selection. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were carried out to evaluate the association between walkability and transport behavior i.e. walking, cycling and motorized transport adjusted for residential self-selection and life stages.

Results

A total of 642 adults aged 20–65 years completed the questionnaire. The highest rated self-selection preference across all groups was a safe and secure neighborhood followed by getting around easily on foot and by bicycle. Three self-selection factors were detected, and varied across the life stages. In the multivariable models high neighborhood walkability was associated with less motorized transport (OR 0.33 95% CI 0.18–0.58), more walking (OR 1.65 95% CI 1.03–2.65) and cycling (OR 1.50 95% CI 1.01–2.23). Self-selection and life stage were also associated with transport behavior, and attenuated the association with walkability.

Conclusion

This study supports the hypothesis that some variation in transport behavior can be explained by life stages and self-selection, but the association between living in a more walkable neighborhood and active transport is still significant after adjusting for these factors. Life stage significantly moderated the association between neighborhood walkability and cycling for transport, and household income significantly moderated the association between neighborhood walkability and walking for transport. Getting around easily by bicycle and on foot was the highest rated self-selection factor second only to perceived neighborhood safety.

Community design, street networks, and public health

Abstract

What is the influence of street network design on public health? While the literature linking the built environment to health outcomes is vast, it glosses over the role that specific street network characteristics play. The three fundamental elements of street networks are: street network density, connectivity, and configuration. Without sufficient attention being paid to these individual elements of street network design, building a community for health remains a guessing game. Our previous study found more compact and connected street networks highly correlated with increased walking, biking, and transit usage; while these trends suggest a health benefit, this study seeks to strengthen that connection.

Using a multilevel, hierarchical statistical model, this research seeks to fill this gap in the literature through a more robust accounting of street network design. Specifically, we ask the following: what is the influence of the three fundamental measures of street networks on obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and asthma? We answer this question by examining 24 California cities exhibiting a range a street network typologies using health data from the California Health Interview Survey.

We control for the food environment, land uses, commuting time, socioeconomic status, and street design. The results suggest that more compact and connected street networks with fewer lanes on the major roads are correlated with reduced rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease among residents. Given the cross-sectional nature of our study, proving causation is not feasible but should be examined in future research. Nevertheless, the outcome is a novel assessment of streets networks and public health that has not yet been seen but will be of benefit to planners and policy-makers.