WIT Press


CAN WE PROMOTE WALKING AS URBAN TRANSPORT?

Price

Free (open access)

Paper DOI

10.2495/UT180301

Volume

182

Pages

12

Page Range

327 - 338

Published

2019

Author(s)

SUZANNE AUDREY, HARRIET FISHER

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.

Keywords

walking, commuting, active travel, physical activity, workplace, behavioural intervention