Key Environmental Determinants of Active Travel

Active Travel

Active Travel refers to any form of physical transport that involves some degree of physical activity (walking, wheeling or cycling) and can also include scooters, e-bikes and wheelchairs. Trips made by Active Travel can replace motorised trips, such as journeys to work, shopping and visiting friends, and offer the potential for significant health benefits.

Despite the growing public interest in the health impacts of transport-related physical activity, little is known about the environmental factors that affect active travel behaviour. To fill this gap, this paper identifies key environmental determinants of active travel for within-town trips, and explores how these may be influenced by local policies.

Walking Your Way to Wellness: The Health Benefits of Active Travel

The framework is based on previous research into the relationship between urban form and travel mode choice for trips to school, but is extended to consider all trip types and the mediating and moderating effects of various characteristics. Those physical environmental factors for which evidence is limited or absent are highlighted with an asterisk (*), while those for which a hypothesised direct relationship has been established are shown with thicker arrows.

Parental and youth characteristics and attitudes are likely to influence both their own perceptions of the environment and their decisions on which travel modes to use. For example, it is anticipated that parents who do not own cars will be more aware of the local neighbourhood environment and are therefore more likely to perceive it as suitable for active travel. It is also hypothesised that those youths who have positive prior attitudes towards active travel are more likely to decide to walk or cycle.