Transportation

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Walking and bicycling for daily transportation are important ways to get regular physical activity, but such active travel has decreased dramatically over the past few decades. Investing transportation funds in sidewalks, traffic-calming devices, greenways, trails and public transit make it easier for people to walk and bike within their own neighborhoods and to other places they need to go. Designing communities that support active travel also creates recreational opportunities, promotes health and can even lower health care costs. Research that shows how infrastructure improvements promote active travel can help policy-makers, planners and other professionals create healthier communities for residents of all ages.

Download our Transportation-related Resources Sheet for the best evidence available about a variety of transportation-based strategies for promoting physical activity.

You can also view and download our The Role of Transportation in Promoting Physical Activity infographic.

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Developing and Evaluating Objective Measures of Outdoor Recreational Areas

title-long: 
Developing and Evaluating Objective Measures of Outdoor Recreational Areas
Principle Investigator First Name: 
Philip
Principle Investigator Suffix: 
Ph.D.
Description: 

A major focus of this project is developing and testing the Path Environment Audit Tool (PEAT), which will be used to assess features of trail paths and other linear recreation areas used for walking, running, or bicycling. PEAT is set up on a Tablet PC running the Access database program so researchers in the field can collect information about the design, amenities, and aesthetic features of trails. The tool asks observers to assess elements ranging from the condition of a trail surface to the presence and condition of restrooms. Information from PEAT will be combined with other data the team collected with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to create a comprehensive database of trial and local neighborhood characteristics. PEAT is being used at 6 different sites in Massachusetts including linear parks, rail-trails, and walking paths in parks. An interdisciplinary team that involves researchers from landscape architecture, geography, public health, and parks and recreation are evaluating the reliability of PEAT, and are assessing the advantages and limitation of the different data collection methods. The work should provide future researchers with proven methodologies to evaluate what makes a path encourage physical activity.

Principle Investigator Last Name: 
Troped
Principle Investigator Full Name (Last, First): 
Troped, Philip
Principle Investigator Email: 
ptroped@hsph.harvard.edu
Award Date: 
01/01/2003
End Date: 
03/31/2005
Other Investigators: 
Ellen Cromely, Ph.D., Hope Hasbrouck, Ph.D., Steven Gortmaker, Ph.D.
Sponsoring Organization: 
Harvard School of Public Health
Sponsoring Organization URL: 
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/
Award Amount: 
100,000
Study Type: 
Document Type: 
Grant ID: 
GID036
Population: 
Location by State: 
Population2: 

Identifying and Measuring Environmental Determinants of Physical Activity

title-long: 
Identifying and Measuring Environmental Determinants of Physical Activity
Principle Investigator First Name: 
Reid
Principle Investigator Suffix: 
Ph.D.
Description: 

Perceptions of the urban environment, particularly a feeling of being in a safe, interesting, and comfortable place, may have more influence on the desire to walk or bike than specific physical characteristics such as the width of sidewalks or the density of development. This project is engaging a diverse expert panel to help define and measure the perceptual qualities that make a street walkable. The team is using video cameras to systematically record hundreds of street scenes in dozens of cities around the United States, and has brought together experts from planning, design, environmental psychology, and landscape ecology to evaluate the scenes using a five-point Visual Assessment Rating scale. Of 41 qualities originally considered, the experts have selected eight as the most important and worthy of measurement. Among the most important features identified by the team are: imagability, or the quality of being recognizable and memorable; the degree of visual enclosure or room-like quality; and the complexity and coherence in the scene. The team is developing and testing a field manual that can be used by other researchers and ordinary people to evaluate streets for walking potential. The goal is to help explain rates of walking within a population.

Principle Investigator Last Name: 
Ewing
Principle Investigator Full Name (Last, First): 
Ewing, Reid
Principle Investigator Email: 
rewing1@umd.edu
Award Date: 
01/01/2003
End Date: 
06/30/2005
Other Investigators: 
Ross Brownson, Ph.D., Susan Handy, Ph.D.
Sponsoring Organization: 
University of Maryland, College Park
Sponsoring Organization URL: 
http://www.umd.edu/
Award Amount: 
99,995
Study Type: 
Document Type: 
Grant ID: 
GID033
Population: 
Location by State: 
Population2: 

Measuring Connectivity for Bicycling and Walking

title-long: 
Measuring Connectivity for Bicycling and Walking
Principle Investigator First Name: 
Jennifer
Principle Investigator Suffix: 
Ph.D.
Description: 

Can you get there from here? This project is looking at how to measure street connections based on the idea that long blocks and few intersections may cut down on the destinations that can be reached via foot or bicycle. The researchers are using Portland, Oregon as their model and readily available data to calculate measures such as the length of blocks, the density of intersections and streets in a given area, and the ratio of street segments to intersections. The researchers are then seeing what these measures mean for people walking or biking, by computing values for neighborhoods surveyed such as “pedestrian route directness,” a ratio between walking distance to a destination and the direct distance. The end result will be a set of recommendations to planners across the country describing which easily-calculated measures are most useful in determining whether street connections are sufficient for ease of bicycling and walking.

Principle Investigator Last Name: 
Dill
Principle Investigator Full Name (Last, First): 
Dill, Jennifer
Principle Investigator Email: 
jdill@pdx.edu
Award Date: 
12/15/2002
End Date: 
09/30/2004
Sponsoring Organization: 
Portland State University
Sponsoring Organization URL: 
http://www.pdx.edu/
Award Amount: 
51,824
Study Type: 
Document Type: 
Grant ID: 
GID032
Population: 
Location by State: 
Population2: 

Assessing Built Environment Features Linked to Physical Activity

title-long: 
Assessing Built Environment Features Linked to Physical Activities
Principle Investigator First Name: 
Marlon
Principle Investigator Suffix: 
Ph.D.
Description: 

This study focuses on developing an urban design audit tool to evaluate features in the built environment that may encourage or discourage physical activity. The audit instrument divides the features into four categories: accessibility, pleasureability, perceived traffic, and crime safety. For example, under pleasureability, the tool allows auditors to quantify, on a scale of 1-3, whether the appearances of buildings on a block are visually compatible. This variable will allow researchers to test the idea that compatible architecture creates an environment that encourages more walking. The researchers are asking three diverse focus groups of ordinary people to help generate items to include in the tool, and are asking for feedback from a panel of experts on physical activity and design. The tool allows block-by-block evaluation of the environment and can be used in many different types of places including urban, suburban, small town, and rural settings. The Boarnet/Day team is using three observers, working separately, to test the instrument in 20 different settings around Southern California. The audit tool should allow future researchers to conduct straightforward data collection and analysis as they evaluate the built environment.

Principle Investigator Last Name: 
Boarnet
Principle Investigator Full Name (Last, First): 
Boarnet, Marlon
Principle Investigator Email: 
mgboarne@uci.edu
Award Date: 
12/01/2002
End Date: 
02/28/2005
Other Investigators: 
Kristin Day, Ph.D.
Sponsoring Organization: 
University of California, Irvine
Sponsoring Organization URL: 
http://www.uci.edu/
Award Amount: 
99,987
Study Type: 
Document Type: 
Grant ID: 
GID031
Population: 
Location by State: 
Population2: 

Increasing Walking and Bicycling with Federal Funding Programs and State, Regional and Local Policies

title-long: 
Increasing Walking and Bicycling with Federal Funding Programs and State, Regional and Local Policies
Principle Investigator Suffix: 
Ph.D.
Description: 

Federal transportation funds, such as the provisions of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Equity Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and subsequent federal transportation bills, can be a catalyst for local and state investments in sidewalks, crosswalks, bicycle lanes, trails and other facilities that support walking and bicycling for transportation. However, the availability of these federal funds alone is not enough to ensure a better walking and bicycling environment. State, regional, and local policy decisions determine the degree to which communities take advantage of the federal programs for walking and bicycling improvements. The overall aim of this project is to evaluate how federal funding interacts with state and local policies to impact the installation of facilities, physical activity levels, and safety. Researchers will analyze national spending patterns on bicycle and pedestrian facilities to select two metropolitan areas for case studies. Case studies will be used to identify what policies have affected regional and local spending patterns and the factors that have influenced the adoption (or lack thereof) of such policies. Data will come from both federal transportation spending databases and regional travel diary surveys.Research Report: The Regional Response to Federal Funding for Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects

Principle Investigator Last Name: 
Handy
Principle Investigator First Name: 
Susan
Principle Investigator Full Name (Last, First): 
Handy, Susan
Principle Investigator Email: 
slhandy@ucdavis.edu
Award Date: 
06/15/2006
End Date: 
12/14/2008
Other Investigators: 
Reid Ewing, Ph.D., Linda Bailey, M.U.P., Barbara McCann, B.A., Michelle Ernst, M.E.S.
Sponsoring Organization: 
University of California, Davis
Sponsoring Organization URL: 
http://www.ucdavis.edu/index.html
Award Amount: 
125,000
Document Type: 
Study Type: 
Grant ID: 
GID013
Population: 
Location by State: 
Population2: 

Impacts of Federal Transportation Legislation on Local Investments in Bikeways, Pedestrian Facilities and Active Living Improvements

title-long: 
Impacts of Federal Transportation Legislation on Local Investments in Bikeways, Pedestrian Facilities and Active Living Improvements
Principle Investigator Suffix: 
Sc.D.
Description: 

Federal transportation legislation, such as the Intermodal Surface Transportation Equity Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), has resulted in considerable public investments in bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure. The purpose of this study is to examine the distribution of these funds across geographic regions and to develop measures of successful implementation. Distributions of funds will be tracked by five federal transportation programs across states, regions, and areas defined by population density and demographic characteristics. A survey of state coordinators and reviews of websites and other reports will help identify features of state-level program designs that are associated with successful implementation. The findings of this study are meant to help inform policy discussions regarding the successful implementation of local and statewide investments in bike and pedestrian improvements.Health and Transportation Policy Forum: A resource for advocates, scientists, policy makers, and members of the general public who are interested in the intersections between transportation planning and health. The site provides information about research on the use of transportation policy-making to promote healthy communities. 

Principle Investigator Last Name: 
Cradock
Principle Investigator First Name: 
Angie
Principle Investigator Full Name (Last, First): 
Cradock, Angie
Principle Investigator Email: 
acradock@hsph.harvard.edu
Award Date: 
07/01/2006
End Date: 
09/30/2007
Other Investigators: 
Phil Troped, Ph.D.
Sponsoring Organization: 
Harvard Prevention Research Center
Sponsoring Organization URL: 
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/prc/
Award Amount: 
76,879
Document Type: 
Study Type: 
Grant ID: 
GID012
Population: 
Location by State: 
Population2: 

Analyzing Crime as a Barrier to Physical Activity: Incorporating Crime Measures in Trail Use Models

title-long: 
Analyzing Crime as a Barrier to Physical Activity: Incorporating Crime Measures in Trail Use Models
Principle Investigator Suffix: 
Ph.D.
Description: 

Crime and safety levels can serve as potential barriers to outdoor physical activity. This project explored the relationship between actual crime and perceptions of crime in trail neighborhoods and trail use. Using data from local police records, neighborhood resident surveys, and infrared trail monitors, this study was able to add data of crime and disorder to a trail use model of an existing Active Living Research grant, Modeling Urban Greenway Use by Dr. Greg Lindsey. The goal of this project was to enhance the current trail use model and to better inform policy makers and practitioners on how crime-related issues affect trail use and physical activity levels.

Principle Investigator Last Name: 
Brown
Principle Investigator First Name: 
Robert
Principle Investigator Full Name (Last, First): 
Brown, Robert
Principle Investigator Email: 
brownra@iupui.edu
Award Date: 
12/01/2005
End Date: 
03/31/2007
Other Investigators: 
Greg Lindsey, Ph.D.
Sponsoring Organization: 
Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis
Sponsoring Organization URL: 
http://www.iupui.edu/
Award Amount: 
40,000
Document Type: 
Study Type: 
Grant ID: 
GID005
Population: 
Location by State: 

Observational Validation of Urban Design Measures in New York City

title-long: 
Observational Validation of Urban Design Measures in New York City
Principle Investigator Suffix: 
Dr.P.H.
Description: 

This project provided supplemental funds for a study originally funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) focused on obesity and the built environment. This Obesity and the Built Environment (OBE) supplemental grant added to a larger previously funded OBE grant that examined the associations between built environment features and physical activity, diet, and body size in three diverse samples of New York City-area residents. Columbia University researchers in this supplement developed and validated a version of the University of Maryland’s Urban Design Instrument (MUDI) that, rather than relying on in-person canvassing, uses geographic data on the built environment that is routinely collected by New York City governmental agencies. The resulting measures of urban design were added to the OBE-funded analyses of physical activity and obesity, providing an opportunity to test the association between urban design and health outcomes.

Principle Investigator Last Name: 
Rundle
Principle Investigator First Name: 
Andrew
Principle Investigator Full Name (Last, First): 
Rundle, Andrew
Principle Investigator Email: 
agr3@columbia.edu
Award Date: 
07/01/2006
End Date: 
06/30/2008
Other Investigators: 
Kathryn Neckerman, Ph.D.; Christopher Weiss, Ph.D.
Sponsoring Organization: 
Columbia University
Sponsoring Organization URL: 
http://www.columbia.edu/
Award Amount: 
51,167
Document Type: 
Study Type: 
Grant ID: 
GID003
Population: 
Location by State: 
Population2: 

Environmental and Family Influences on Adolescent Overweight - Additional Observational Measures

title-long: 
Environmental and Family Influences on Adolescent Overweight - Additional Observational Measures
Principle Investigator Suffix: 
Ph.D.
Description: 

This project provided supplemental funds for a study originally funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) focused on obesity and the built environment. This Obesity and the Built Environment (OBE) supplemental grant added to a larger previously funded OBE grant that evaluated the influence of community characteristics and the built environment on adolescent overweight in 26 communities scattered across Vermont and New Hampshire. This supplement expanded the set of observational measures used in the OBE grant to include features from the community level, parks and playgrounds, and trails. Data was collected using observational measures produced from Active Living Research supported projects, including the Irvine Minnesota Inventory, Physical Activity Resource Assessment (PARA) instrument, and the Path Environmental Audit Tool (PEAT). The additional observational measures were meant to support a much wider range of community measures of the built environment than would be possible otherwise.

Principle Investigator Last Name: 
Dalton
Principle Investigator First Name: 
Madeline
Principle Investigator Full Name (Last, First): 
Dalton, Madeline
Principle Investigator Email: 
madeline.a.dalton@dartmouth.edu
Award Date: 
07/01/2006
End Date: 
12/31/2009
Other Investigators: 
Norman Marshall, M.S.
Sponsoring Organization: 
Dartmouth Medical School
Sponsoring Organization URL: 
http://dms.dartmouth.edu/
Award Amount: 
51,074
Document Type: 
Study Type: 
Grant ID: 
GID002
Population: 
Location by State: 

Objectively Measuring Physical Activity Space and Food Environments

Principle Investigator Last Name: 
Colabianchi
Description: 

This project provided supplemental funds for a study originally funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) focused on obesity and the built environment. This Obesity and the Built Environment (OBE) supplemental grant added to a larger previously funded OBE grant that examined the feasibility of obtaining adolescent self-defined neighborhood boundaries via a mapping exercise, test the practicability of having adolescents complete travel diaries to document their travel and utilization behavior, and elicit factors that are important to adolescents in determining utilization, route preference and neighborhood boundaries. This supplement complemented the OBE funded study by adding objective data from a built environment assessment tool (the Physical Activity Resource Assessment (PARA) instrument) and a nutrition environment assessment tool (the Nutrition Environment Measurement Study (NEMS)) to answer the question, “how does quality (objectively measured) and availability of specific amenities or food variety affect physical activity and eating behavior in adolescents?”

Principle Investigator Suffix: 
Ph.D.
Principle Investigator First Name: 
Natalie
Principle Investigator Full Name (Last, First): 
Colabianchi, Natalie
Principle Investigator Email: 
colabian@gwm.sc.edu
Award Date: 
07/01/2006
End Date: 
07/31/2009
Sponsoring Organization: 
University of South Carolina
Sponsoring Organization URL: 
http://www.sc.edu/
Award Amount: 
51,361
Study Type: 
Document Type: 
Grant ID: 
GID001
Location by State: 
Population: 

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