Assessing Barriers and Motivators for Use of a Trail for Active Transportation in a College Town

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Virginia Tech


A high amount of the US population is not physically active, contributing to rates of heart disease and obesity. One strategy to increase physical activity is to use more active transportation, defined as walking or biking for transit. Besides increasing physical activity levels, active transportation can provide other benefits such as decreased air pollution from cars. College campuses provide opportunities for active transportation as most residences are close to campus. Therefore, we examined reasons for use and barriers to active transportation in students living in a community connected to a large university via a 1.9 mile, paved protected trail. Two pedestrian and bicycle counters were placed to find the number of walkers and bikers on the trail per day and students were recruited to take an online survey. We found that more people used the trail during the weekday compared to the weekend. Students did not receive much support from their friends and family to use the trail. Users of the trail were more likely to believe that using active transportation helps protect the environment while non-users were uncomfortable using a bike. Barriers included the time it took to use the trail and the need to carry items. Both users and non-users indicated that a financial incentive would motivate them to use the trail more. We conclude that non-users may be uncomfortable using a bike and worry about carrying their items for class. Changing university parking fees, providing bike lessons, and placing signs with directions and time to campus may increase active transportation to the university via this trail.



Walk, Bike, University, Attitudes, Commute