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An Examination of Workplace Influences on Active Commuting in a Sample of University Employees

Bopp, Melissa PhD; Sims, Dangaia MA; Colgan, Joanna BA; Rovniak, Liza PhD; Matthews, Stephen A. PhD; Poole, Erika PhD

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: July/August 2016 - Volume 22 - Issue 4 - p 387–391
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000337
Original Articles
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Context: Active commuting (AC; walking or biking) to work is associated with many benefits, though rates remain low. Employers can benefit from greater employee AC, through improved employee physical activity, though how the workplace is related to AC is unclear.

Objective: The current study sought to examine how the workplace environment is related to AC participation.

Design: This was a cross-sectional, online survey conducted in April-May 2014.

Participants: A volunteer sample of university employees (n = 551) was recruited.

Setting: A large university in the northeastern United States.

Main Outcome Measures: The online survey addressed travel habits, demographics, and workplace social and physical environment for AC. Pearson correlations and t tests were used to examine relationships between the percentage of all trips as AC and workplace influences and a multivariate regression analysis predicted AC participation.

Results: Participants reported 0.86 ± 2.6 AC trips per week. Percentage of trips as AC trips associated with perceived coworker AC (P < .001), parking availability (r = −0.22, P < .001), and bike parking availability (r = 0.24, P < .001). Individuals reporting greater walking time from their parking spot to their workplace reported a higher percentage of trips as AC compared with those with closer parking (P < .001). Individuals with a parking pass were less likely to AC than those with no permit (P < .001). The full multivariate model explained 42.5% of the variance in percentage of trips per week via AC (P < .001), having a parking pass (B = 0.23, P < .001), parking availability (B = −0.17, P < .001), perceived coworkers AC (B = 0.08, P = .02), and greater perceived walk time to campus (B = −0.43, P < .001) as significant predictors.

Conclusions: This study provided insight into institutional influences on AC, indicating that policy, infrastructure, and programmatic initiatives could be used to promote workplace AC.

This study examines how the workplace environment is related to active commuting participation and provides insight on institutional influences on active commuting, indicating that policy, infrastructure, and programmatic initiatives could be used to promote workplace active commuting.

Departments of Kinesiology (Dr Bopp and Mss Sims and Colgan) and Sociology and Anthropology (Dr Matthews), The Pennsylvania State University, University Park; Department of Medicine and Public Health Sciences, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey (Dr Rovniak); and College of Information Sciences and Technology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park (Dr Poole).

Correspondence: Melissa Bopp, PhD, Department of Kinesiology, The Pennsylvania State University, 266 Recreation Bldg, University Park, PA 16801 (Mjb73@psu.edu).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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