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Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2014 Mar 6;11(1):31. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-11-31.

Route choices of transport bicyclists: a comparison of actually used and shortest routes.

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  • 1Institute of Sport Science, University of Graz, Mozartgasse 14, 8010 Graz, Austria.



Despite evidence that environmental features are related to physical activity, the association between the built environment and bicycling for transportation remains a poorly investigated subject. The aim of the study was to improve our understanding of the environmental determinants of bicycling as a means of transportation in urban European settings by comparing the spatial differences between the routes actually used by bicyclists and the shortest possible routes.


In the present study we examined differences in the currently used and the shortest possible bicycling routes, with respect to distance, type of street, and environmental characteristics, in the city of Graz, Austria. The objective measurement methods of a Global Positioning System (GPS) and a Geographic Information System (GIS) were used.


Bicycling routes actually used were significantly longer than the shortest possible routes. Furthermore, the following attributes were also significantly different between the used route compared to the shortest possible route: Bicyclists often used bicycle lanes and pathways, flat and green areas, and they rarely used main roads and crossings.


The results of the study support our hypothesis that bicyclists prefer bicycle pathways and lanes instead of the shortest possible routes. This underlines the importance of a well-developed bicycling infrastructure in urban communities.

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