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Am J Prev Med. 2011 Sep;41(3):241-50. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.04.012.

Active travel in Germany and the U.S. Contributions of daily walking and cycling to physical activity.

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School of Public and International Affairs, Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Tech, 1021 Prince Street, Alexandria VA 22314, USA.



Travel surveys in Europe and the U.S. show large differences in the proportion of walking and cycling trips without considering implications for physical activity.


This study estimates differences between Germany and the U.S. over time in population levels of daily walking and cycling at different health-enhancing thresholds across sociodemographic groups.


Uniquely comparable national travel surveys for the U.S. (NHTS 2001 and 2009) and Germany (MiD 2002 and 2008) were used to calculate the number, duration, and distance of active trips per capita. The population-weighted person and trip files for each survey were merged to calculate population levels of any walking/cycling, walking/cycling 30 minutes/day, and achieving 30 minutes in bouts of at least 10 minutes. Logistic regression models controlled for the influence of socioeconomic variables. Data were analyzed in 2010.


Between 2001/2002 and 2008/2009, the proportion of "any walking" was stable in the U.S. (18.5%) but increased in Germany from 36.5% to 42.3%. The proportion of "any cycling" in the U.S. remained at 1.8% but increased in Germany from 12.1% to 14.1%. In 2008/2009, the proportion of "30 minutes of walking and cycling" in Germany was 21.2% and 7.8%, respectively, compared to 7.7% and 1.0% in the U.S. There is much less variation in active travel among socioeconomic groups in Germany than in the U.S. German women, children, and seniors walk and cycle much more than their counterparts in the U.S.


The high prevalence of active travel in Germany shows that daily walking and cycling can help a large proportion of the population to meet recommended physical activity levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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