Evaluating the Impact of Neighborhood Trail Development on Active Travel Behavior and Overall Physical Activity
AbstractMany studies have examined the impact that the built environment has on physical activity. However, most have used cross-sectional methods which have allowed them to establish correlations but not behavioral causality. This research first uses a longitudinal design to perform a pilot study evaluating the impact neighborhood trail development has on active travel behavior and overall physical activity. A sample of suburban residents in West Valley City, Utah were surveyed both before and after the construction of a class-one trail in their neighborhood. Data collection methods include various individual and household surveys, as well as individual single-day fully annotated activity diaries completed at three pre-assigned time points before and after the trail's construction. Secondly, this research analyzes the suitability of the methods employed in the pilot study and provides a framework for future evaluations of built environment interventions. The pilot study found that installation of the new trail did not significantly increase overall physical activity or walking trips over the duration of the study. Residential proximity was not significantly correlated to walking behavior or physical activity, but over time an increase in nearness to a trail was correlated to a significant decrease in physical activity episodes and walking trips. Specific perceptions and attitudes about active modes, particularly those involving safety, were significantly correlated to behavior, and a preference for playing sports and ownership of exercise equipment was significantly correlated to physical activity and total walking trips. Residents moving to the area after the trail's construction were not drawn to the area by the trail, and report moving to the area for similar reasons to historic residents. A survey of the few existing trail users shows that the new trail may exhibit several negative characteristics which could limit any induced demand for physical activity and active travel behavior among other neighborhood residents. The analysis of this pilot study's methodology shows a need for future research which includes a separate control group, improved sampling, and an increased precision in data collection instruments. Future longitudinal studies should also delineate between trip utility (recreation/transportation) and provide a concurrent information/travel campaign.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of California Transportation Center in its series University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers with number qt5vw10860.
Date of creation: 01 Jun 2008
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