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Area variation in recreational cycling in Melbourne: a compositional or contextual effect?
  1. C B M Kamphuis1,
  2. K Giskes1,2,
  3. A M Kavanagh3,
  4. L E Thornton3,
  5. L R Thomas3,
  6. F J van Lenthe1,
  7. J P Mackenbach1,
  8. G Turrell2
  1. 1
    Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2
    School of Public Health, Institute for Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
  3. 3
    Key Centre for Women’s Health in Society, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Ms C Kamphuis, Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Medical Centre, P.O. Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands; c.kamphuis{at}


Objective: To examine whether compositional and/or contextual area characteristics are associated with area socioeconomic inequalities and between-area differences in recreational cycling.

Setting: The city of Melbourne, Australia.

Participants: 2349 men and women residing in 50 areas (58.7% response rate).

Main outcome measure: Cycling for recreational purposes (at least once a month vs never).

Design: In a cross-sectional survey participants reported their frequency of recreational cycling. Objective area characteristics were collected for their residential area by environmental audits or calculated with Geographic Information Systems software. Multilevel logistic regression models were performed to examine associations between recreational cycling, area socioeconomic level, compositional characteristics (age, sex, education, occupation) and area characteristics (design, safety, destinations or aesthetics).

Results: After adjustment for compositional characteristics, residents of deprived areas were less likely to cycle for recreation (OR 0.66; 95% CI 0.43 to 1.00), and significant between-area differences in recreational cycling were found (median odds ratio 1.48 (95% credibility interval 1.24 to 1.78). Aesthetic characteristics tended to be worse in deprived areas and were the only group of area characteristics that explained some of the area deprivation differences. Safety characteristics explained the largest proportion of between-area variation in recreational cycling.

Conclusion: Creating supportive environments with respect to safety and aesthetic area characteristics may decrease between-area differences and area deprivation inequalities in recreational cycling, respectively.

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  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Ethics approval: The project was approved by the La Trobe University Human Ethics Committee.

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