How do perceptions of local neighborhood relate to adolescents' walking and cycling?

Am J Health Promot. 2005 Nov-Dec;20(2):139-47. doi: 10.4278/0890-1171-20.2.139.


Purpose: To examine how perceptions of the local neighborhood relate to adolescents' walking and cycling.

Design: Exploratory cross-sectional study.

Setting: Birth cohort from the Nepean Hospital, Sydney, Australia.

Subjects: Three hundred forty-seven adolescents (79.1% response rate; 49.6% boys; mean age = 13.0 +/- 0.2 years) and their parents.

Measures: Self-report and parental-report questionnaires.

Results: Multiple linear regressions, adjusted for level of maternal education, revealed that boys who reported having many peers to hang out with locally, cycled for recreation (beta = 0.242, p = .006) or for transport (beta = 0.141, p = .046) more often, and walked for transport for longer (beta = 0.129, p = .024) on weekdays. For girls this variable was related to cycling for recreation on weekends (beta = 0.164, p = .006) and walking to school (beta = 0.118, p = .002). Adolescents who waved/talked to neighbors walked for transport more often (boys, beta = 0.149, p = .037; girls, beta = 0.119, p = .012). Girls who perceived local roads to be safe spent more time walking for transport on weekdays (beta = 0.183, p = .007) and for exercise on weekends (beta = 0.184, p = .034). Parents' perception of heavy traffic was negatively associated with boys' walking for transport (beta = -0.138, p = .037) and many aspects of girls' walking and cycling.

Conclusion: Social interaction and road safety may be important predictors of adolescents' walking and cycling in their neighborhood. Limitations are the use of self-report and cross-sectional data. Longitudinal studies may clarify these relations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bicycling*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • New South Wales
  • Parents / psychology
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Self Disclosure
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Walking*