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Demographic factors, workplace factors and active transportation use in the USA: a secondary analysis of 2009 NHTS data
  1. Tyler D Quinn,
  2. John M Jakicic,
  3. Carl I Fertman,
  4. Bethany Barone Gibbs
  1. Department of Health and Physical Activity, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Tyler D Quinn, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NPPTL/CDC, 626 Cochrans Mill Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15236, USA; yhh7{at}


Background While active transportation has health, economic and environmental benefits, participation within the USA is low. The purpose of this study is to examine relationships of demographic and workplace factors with health-enhancing active transportation and commuting.

Methods Participants in the 2009 National Household Travel Survey reported demographics, workplace factors (time/distance to work, flextime availability, option to work from home and work start time) and active transportation (for any purpose) or commuting (to and from work, workers only) as walking or biking (≥10 min bouts only). Multiple logistic regression examined cross-sectional relationships between demographics and workplace factors with active transportation and commuting.

Results Among 152 573 participants, active transportation was reported by 1.11% by biking and 11.74% by walking. Among 111 808 working participants, active commuting was reported by 0.80% by biking and 2.76% by walking. Increased odds (p<0.05) of active commuting and transportation were associated with younger age, lower income, urban dwelling, and the highest and lowest education categories. Males had greater odds of commuting and transporting by bike but decreased odds of walk transporting. Inconsistent patterns were observed by race, but whites had greater odds of any biking (p<0.05). Odds of active commuting were higher with a flexible schedule (p<0.001), the option to work from home (p<0.05), shorter time and distance to work (both p<0.001), and work arrival time between 11:00 and 15:59 (walking only, p=0.001).

Conclusions Active transportation differed across demographic and workplace factors. These relationships could inform infrastructure policy decisions and workplace wellness programming targeting increased active transportation.


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  • Author's note: This analysis has been previously published as a Master's Thesis in D-Scholarship, the Institutional Repository at The University of Pittsburgh, on 23 September 2015.

  • Contributors TDQ planned the study and completed data analysis. BBG planned the study and assisted in data analysis. JMJ assisted in study design and data analysis. CIF assisted in study design and provided feedback on data analysis.

  • Funding This study was funded by the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA and by the National Institutes of Health through grant number UL1TR001857.

  • Competing interests JMJ serves on the scientific advisory board for Weight Watchers International and as a co-investigator on research grants awarded to the University of Pittsburgh by Weight Watchers International and HumanScale. BBG serves as a principal investigator on a research grant awarded to the University of Pittsburgh by HumanScale.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the University of Pittsburgh Institutional Review Board (IRB# PRO15030206).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement All data created during this research are openly available from the US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration at