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Population levels of, and inequalities in, active travel: A national, cross-sectional study of adults in Scotland

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-134
JournalPreventive Medicine
Early online date28 Sep 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Sep 2017


This study aimed to describe active travel (walking or cycling) in Scotland and explore potential demographic, geographic, and socio-economic inequalities in active travel. We extracted data for the period 2012–13 (39,585 journey stages) from the Scottish Household Survey. Survey travel diaries recorded all journeys made on the previous day by sampled individuals aged 16 + living within Scotland, and the stages within each journey. Descriptive statistics were calculated for journey stages, mode, purpose and distance. Logistic regression models were fitted to examine the relationship between the likelihood of a journey stage being active, age, sex, area deprivation and urban/rural classification. A quarter of all journey stages were walked or cycled (26%, n: 10,280/39,585); 96% of these were walked. Those living in the least deprived areas travelled a greater average distance per active journey stage than those in the most deprived. The likelihood of an active journey stage was higher for those living in the most deprived areas than for those in the least deprived (Odds Ratio (OR) 1.21, 95% CI 1.04–1.41) and for those in younger compared to older age groups (OR 0.44, 95% CI 0.34–0.58). In conclusion, socio-economic inequalities in active travel were identified, but – contrary to the trends for many health-beneficial behaviours – with a greater likelihood of active travel in more deprived areas. This indicates a potential contribution to protecting and improving health for those whose health status tends to be worse. Walking was the most common mode of active travel, and should be promoted as much as cycling.

    Research areas

  • active travel, health inequality, rural areas, urban areas, physical activity

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