Transportation cycling in the U.S.: Cross-sectional perspectives and a natural experiment

Eileen Nehme, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The overall purpose of this study was to increase understanding of the factors that may influence cycling for transportation. First, this study examined associations between sociodemographic factors, population density and transportation bicycling, and described transportation bicyclists by trip purposes, using the U.S.-representative 2009 National Household Travel Survey. Results showed that 1% of Americans older than five years of age bicycled for transportation in a typical day, and that transportation cycling was inversely associated with age, and directly with being male, with being white, and with population density. Twenty-one percent of transportation bicyclists reported trips to work, while 67% reported trips to social or other activities. These findings indicate that bicycles are used for a variety of trip purposes, which has implications for transportation bicycling research based on commuter data, and for developing interventions to promote this behavior. Next, this study assessed measurement properties of, and associations among, Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) theory constructs operationalized in relation to transportation cycling adoption. DOI stage of adoption of transportation bicycling and a five-item perceived compatibility of transportation bicycling score (compatibility) were assessed via Internet-based surveys of downtown Austin employees at two time points 1-2 weeks apart. Compatibility was found to be associated with being male, younger age, and higher education, and with DOI stage of adoption of transportation bicycling. These results are a launching point for further exploration of DOI applicability to transportation cycling. Lastly, this study assessed the effects of new workplace showers on physical activity behaviors in a select sample of employees recruited from several downtown worksites in Austin Texas USA. Three groups were compared: an intervention group (new showers introduced after baseline) and two comparison groups (one with and one without showers at baseline). No significant differences in changes of physical activity from baseline to follow-up across three study groups were found. One-quarter of participants with new workplace showers and 46.9% of those with existing workplace showers at baseline reported ever using the showers. Worksite shower users were highly active at baseline, suggesting a possible early adopter effect, with potential for diffusion. Future studies may benefit from longer exposure times and larger samples.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Public health|Transportation planning

Recommended Citation

Nehme, Eileen, "Transportation cycling in the U.S.: Cross-sectional perspectives and a natural experiment" (2015). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3721102.