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Travel Mode and Physical Activity

A study from Sydney University in Australia on travel mode and physical activity has been added to the Research Center best practices database.

Travel Mode and Physical Activity at Sydney University

Travel Mode and Physical Activity at Sydney University was designed to help planning of physical activity and active travel promotion programs at the University of Sydney, Australia as part of the “Sit Less, Move More” initiative, and as baseline data for evaluation. An online survey was conducted. Among the results:

  •  The most frequently used travel modes were train (32%), car as driver (22%), bus (17%), walking (17%) and cycling (6%).
  • Staff were twice as likely to drive as students, and also slightly more likely to use active transport, defined as walking and cycling (26% versus 22%).
  • Overall, 41% of respondents were sufficiently active (defined by meeting physical activity recommendations of 150 min per week).

A secondary research question sought to examine and compare two definitions of active travel (with and without public transport use) in relation to achieving sufficient amount of physical activity.

Results of the study indicate that including public transport users in the definition of active transport both substantially increases the proportion of respondents considered to be actively travelling but also the likelihood of achieving recommended levels of physical activity.

"While walkers and cyclists achieved a higher total mean minutes of weekly self-reported physical activity, when public transport users were added to this group, there was only a small reduction in the mean total weekly minutes of self-reported physical activity. From a public health perspective, because public transport users include a large proportion of respondents, the overall public health benefit of active travel is greater if public transport is included as part of the definition of active travel," researchers concluded.

Researchers also pointed out the impact of parking strategies. Increases in parking costs for the majority using paid parking would directly impact upon decisions about travel mode choice, they concluded.

Read the introduction and download the full report.