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Multi-component workplace supports for active commuting

Health Factors: Diet & Exercise Housing & Transit
Decision Makers: Employers & Businesses
Evidence Rating: Some Evidence
Population Reach: 50-99% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Description

Active commuting involves some form of physical exercise such as walking or bicycling as a way to travel to and from work. Multi-component workplace supports for active commuting can include physical infrastructure (e.g., bicycle parking or cyclist showers), educational or social support programs (e.g., workplace travel plans, transportation coordinators, walking groups, or walk/bike to work campaigns), or financial incentives (e.g., free bicycle parking, bicycle commuting reimbursements, or fees for car parking) (BTWD-Guidelines).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased active transportation
Increased physical activity
Improved physical fitness
Improved health outcomes
Reduced vehicle miles traveled
Reduced emissions

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that multi-component workplace supports increase active commuting (Ogilvie 2004, Brockman 2011, Goodman 2013, Scheepers 2014). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects and determine which elements are most effective (Macmillan 2013, Scheepers 2014).

Active commuting increases physical activity, improves physical fitness, and improves health outcomes (Xu 2013Oja 2011, Hamer 2008, Shephard 2008). Commuter cycling has been shown to reduce all-cause mortality and improve cardiovascular fitness for middle-aged and elderly adults (Oja 2011). Active commuting also reduces cardiovascular risk, especially among women (Hamer 2008). In some cases, bicyclists and pedestrians can achieve greater than 80% of recommended daily physical activity levels through active commuting (Brockman 2011, Freeland 2012). Among regular active commuters, walkers are more likely to be female, and bicyclists are more likely to be male (Brockman 2011).

Individual, interpersonal, community, environmental, and institutional (e.g., workplace) factors all influence active commuting decisions. Workplace supports can be tailored to fit small and large employers (Bopp 2013). Workplace travel plans that restrict car parking options can increase the number of employees bicycling and walking to work (Brockman 2011). Organizational travel plans (OTPs) in workplaces and schools may reduce car use, however, OTPs are more likely to be effective if they include environmental changes such as bicycling infrastructure or enhanced local walkability (Macmillan 2013). Efforts that combine infrastructure improvements and promotional or educational efforts can increase cycling to workplaces and other destinations (Goodman 2013).

Multi-component workplace supports that provide bicycle parking and cyclist showers are associated with increased bicycle commuting (Buehler 2012). Supports that limit or charge for car parking, offer free off-site parking, and supportive work environments are also associated with increased active commuting (Panter 2013). Workplace supports such as access to bike storage, incentives to bike/walk to work, showers, and maps or signs of nearby walking routes are associated with increased odds of meeting recommended daily physical activity levels (ALR-Hipp 2015).

Replacing automotive trips with biking and walking can reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and emissions at relatively low cost, although the long-term effect on traffic reduction is likely minor (RAND-Sorenson 2008, Salon 2012). Transportation policies and supports for active commuting that reduce car trips may also reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (Lindsay 2010, Shephard 2008).

Implementation

United States

Nationally, the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) runs the Bicycle Friendly America (BFA) program that provides assistance, tools, and recognition for states, communities, universities, and businesses that support bicycling for transportation and recreation (LAB-BFA). The Bicycle Friendly Business program component of BFA recognizes employers that implement multi-component workplace supports for active commuting as 'bicycle friendly businesses;' these businesses are located in 47 states (LAB-BFA awards). 

Many other non-profit organizations also provide resources designed to help employers in their area implement multi-component supports for active commuting, for example in Washington, DC (Commuter Connections-Bicycling Washington DC); San Francisco, CA (SF Bike-BB); and Baltimore, MD (BMC-Employer guide).

Wisconsin

The League of American Bicyclists recognized 47 businesses in Wisconsin as bicycle friendly businesses and 4 bicycle friendly universities (LAB-BFA awards).

Non-profit organizations in Wisconsin, such as the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation, provide resources designed to help employers implement multi-component supports for active commuting (WBF-Workplace).

Implementation Resources

BTWD-Guidelines - Bike to Work Day (BTWD). Become a bicycle friendly workplace. Accessed on December 1, 2015
CDC-Transportation HIA toolkit - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Transportation health impact assessment toolkit: Strategies for health-oriented transportation projects and policies promote active transportation. Accessed on February 16, 2016
Commuter Connections-Support bicycling - Commuter Connections. Supporting bicycling. Accessed on December 10, 2015
LaCrosse-Active commuting toolkit - City of LaCrosse Wisconsin, Get Active, Communities Putting Prevention to Work. Active commuting toolkit: Making the healthy choice the easy choice. Accessed on February 16, 2016
Thurston County-WorkWell toolkit 2008 - Thurston County Washington, Steps to a Healthier WA. WorkWell Thurston County: Healthy workplace toolkit. 2008. Accessed on February 16, 2016

Citations - Description

BTWD-Guidelines - Bike to Work Day (BTWD). Become a bicycle friendly workplace. Accessed on December 1, 2015

Citations - Evidence

ALR-Hipp 2015 - Hipp JA. Worksite policies and supports for physical activity. 2015 Active Living Research (ALR) Annual Conference. 2015. Accessed on February 16, 2016
Bopp 2013* - Bopp M, Kaczynski AT, Campbell ME. Social ecological influences on work-related active commuting among adults. American Journal of Health Behavior. 2013;37(4):543-554(12). Accessed on March 2, 2016
Brockman 2011* - Brockman R, Fox KR. Physical activity by stealth? The potential health benefits of a workplace transport plan. Public Health. 2011;125(4):210–6. Accessed on November 30, 2015
Buehler 2012* - Buehler R. Determinants of bicycle commuting in the Washington, DC region: The role of bicycle parking, cyclist showers, and free car parking at work. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment. 2012;17(7):525–31. Accessed on November 24, 2015
Freeland 2012* - Freeland AL, Banerjee SN, Dannenberg AL, Wendel AM. Walking associated with public transit: Moving toward increased physical activity in the United States. American Journal of Public Health. 2013;103(3):536–42. Accessed on November 24, 2015
Goodman 2013 - Goodman A, Panter J, Sharp SJ, Ogilvie D. Effectiveness and equity impacts of town-wide cycling initiatives in England: A longitudinal, controlled natural experimental study. Social Science & Medicine. 2013;97:228–37. Accessed on November 23, 2015
Hamer 2008* - Hamer M, Chida Y. Active commuting and cardiovascular risk: A meta-analytic review. Preventive Medicine. 2008;46(1):9–13. Accessed on November 23, 2015
Lindsay 2010* - Lindsay G, Macmillan A, Woodward A. Moving urban trips from cars to bicycles: Impact on health and emissions. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 2011;35(1):54–60. Accessed on November 24, 2015
Macmillan 2013* - Macmillan AK, Hosking J, Connor JL, Bullen C, Ameratunga S. A Cochrane systematic review of the effectiveness of organisational travel plans: Improving the evidence base for transport decisions. Transport Policy. 2013;29:249–56. Accessed on November 23, 2015
Ogilvie 2004 - Ogilvie D, Egan M, Hamilton V, Petticrew M. Promoting walking and cycling as an alternative to using cars: Systematic review. BMJ. 2004;329(7469):763. Accessed on November 23, 2015
Oja 2011* - Oja P, Titze S, Bauman A, de Geus B, Reger-Nash B, Kohlberger T. Health benefits of cycling: A systematic review. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2011;21(4):496–509. Accessed on November 24, 2015
Panter 2013 - Panter J, Desousa C, Ogilvie D. Incorporating walking or cycling into car journeys to and from work: The role of individual, workplace and environmental characteristics. Preventive Medicine. 2013;56(3-4):211–7. Accessed on November 23, 2015
RAND-Sorenson 2008 - Sorenson P, Wachs M, Min EY, et al. Moving Los Angeles: Short-term policy options for improving transportation. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation; 2008: Monograph Report 748. Accessed on May 24, 2016
Salon 2012* - Salon D, Boarnet MG, Handy S, Spears S, Tal G. How do local actions affect VMT? A critical review of the empirical evidence. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment. 2012;17(7):495–508. Accessed on November 24, 2015
Scheepers 2014* - Scheepers CE, Wendel-Vos GCW, den Broeder JM, et al. Shifting from car to active transport: A systematic review of the effectiveness of interventions. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice. 2014;70:264-280. Accessed on February 16, 2016
Shephard 2008* - Shephard RJ. Is active commuting the answer to population health? Sports Medicine. 2008;38(9):751–8. Accessed on November 23, 2015
Xu 2013* - Xu H, Wen LM, Rissel C. The relationships between active transport to work or school and cardiovascular health or body weight: A systematic review. Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health. 2013;25(4):298-315. Accessed on February 16, 2016

Citations - Implementation

BMC-Employer guide - Baltimore Metropolitan Council, Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB). Employer guide to bicycle commuting: Establishing a bike-friendly workplace for your Baltimore region employees. Baltimore: Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB); 2009. Accessed on November 30, 2015
Commuter Connections-Bicycling Washington DC - Commuter Connections. Commuting solutions for Washington area employers. Accessed on December 8, 2015
LAB-BFA - The League of American Bicyclists (LAB). Bicycle friendly America (BFA). Accessed on February 16, 2016
LAB-BFA awards - The League of American Bicyclists (LAB). Bicycle friendly America (BFA) award database: Business. Accessed on February 16, 2016
SF Bike-BB - San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Bikes & business (BB): Promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation. Accessed on December 10, 2015
WBF-Workplace - Wisconsin Bike Federation (WBF). Building a better, more bike-friendly Wisconsin: Bicycling at your workplace. Accessed on March 2, 2016

Page Last Updated

July 15, 2015

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