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Utilitarian Bicycling

A Multilevel Analysis of Climate and Personal Influences
  • Meghan Winters
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Meghan Winters, BSc, Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, University of British Columbia, Mather Building, 5804 Fairview Ave., Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z3.
    Affiliations
    Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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  • Melissa C. Friesen
    Affiliations
    School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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  • Mieke Koehoorn
    Affiliations
    Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

    School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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  • Kay Teschke
    Affiliations
    Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

    School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Published:December 27, 2006DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2006.08.027

      Background

      Increasing utilitarian bicycling in urban areas is a means to reduce air and noise pollution, increase physical activity, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. We investigated the impact of individual- and city-level characteristics on bicycling in Canadian cities to inform transportation and public health policies.

      Methods

      The study population included 59,899 respondents to the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) living in cities with populations greater than 50,000. In 2005, data on individual characteristics were drawn from the CCHS, and city-level climate data from Environment Canada records. Separate multilevel logistic regression models were developed for the general (nonstudent) and student populations.

      Results

      The proportion of the urban population reporting bicycling in a typical week was 7.9%, with students cycling more than nonstudents (17.2% vs 6.0%). In the general population, older age, female gender, lower education, and higher income were associated with lower likelihood of cycling. More days of precipitation per year and more days of freezing temperatures per year were both associated with lower levels of utilitarian cycling (odds ratios [ORs] for every 30-day increase in precipitation=0.84, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.74–0.94, and for every 30-day increase in freezing temperatures OR=0.91, 95% CI=0.86–0.97). There was less variation in the proportion of students who cycled by age and income, and only the number of days with freezing temperatures influenced bicycling.

      Conclusions

      Bicycling patterns are associated with individual demographic characteristics and the climate where one lives. This evidence might be useful to guide policy initiatives for targeted health promotion and transportation infrastructure.
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