Evaluating the Impact of Neighborhood Trail Development on Active Travel Behavior and Overall Physical Activity of Suburban Residents

Source: Transportation Research Board

Many studies have examined the impact that the built environment has on physical activity. Much existing research posits that if communities will provide and improve active infrastructure such as trails, sidewalks, and bike lanes, people will become more physically active. However, most of these studies have used cross-sectional methods that have allowed them to establish correlations but not behavioral causality. In this pilot project, a longitudinal design is used to assess a trail construction impact on active travel behavior and overall physical activity among suburban residents. A sample of suburban residents in West Valley City, Utah, was surveyed both before and after the construction of a Class 1 trail in their neighborhood by means of a preliminary household survey, individual activity diaries completed at three preassigned time points (before and twice after the trail's construction), new-resident surveys, and a trail user's intercept survey. This intervention technique (the intercept survey) performed a more direct test of causality by looking at the same group of residents over time and analyzing whether individual changes in behavior occurred following the construction of the trail. The paper shows that trail neighborhood residents did not use the facility after it was built, new residents did not move to the neighborhood because of the trail, and users of the trail came from elsewhere. It also discusses trail amenities that appear to be the more desirable ones.

Back to Search Results