Utilitarian Cycling in Belgium: A Cross-Sectional Study in a Sample of Regular Cyclists

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

For an accurate estimation of health benefits and hazards of utilitarian cycling, a prospective collection of bicycle usage data (exposure) is fundamental. Individual and environmental correlates are necessary to guide health promotion and traffic safety issues. Firstly, this study aims to report on utilitarian bicycle usage in Belgium, using a prospective data collection in regular adult commuter cyclists. Secondly, the association is explored between the individual variation in bicycle usage and individual and environmental correlates.

Methods:

1187 regular adult cyclists filled out travel diaries prospectively. Multivariate linear regression with Stepwise selection (SMLR) models studied the association between exposure and individual and environmental correlates.

Results:

Higher age and availability of cycle paths have a positive association with bicycle usage to work. Women cycle significant less compared with men, and so do cyclists with ‘poor’ or ‘average’ health. Living in an urban crown (opposed to city center) and living in Flanders (opposed to Brussels or Wallonia) is associated with significantly more cycling.

Conclusions:

Utilitarian cycling is related to regional differences, level of urbanization of the place of residence, availability of bicycle paths, and gender. These findings are useful in estimating health benefits and hazards of utilitarian cycling among regular Belgian cyclists.

de Geus and Meeusen are with the Dept of Human Physiology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium. Degraeuwe, Int Panis, Aertsens, De Weerdt, and Torfs are with the Dept of Transport & Mobility, Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Mol, Belgium. Vandenbulcke and Thomas are with C.O.R.E. and the Dept of Geography, Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium.