Objective: To examine how adults use new local walking and cycling routes, and what characteristics predict use.
Methods: 1849 adults completed questionnaires in 2010 and 2011, before and after the construction of walking and cycling infrastructure in three UK municipalities. 1510 adults completed questionnaires in 2010 and 2012. The 2010 questionnaire measured baseline characteristics; the follow-up questionnaires captured infrastructure use.
Results: 32% of participants reported using the new infrastructure in 2011, and 38% in 2012. Walking for recreation was by far the most common use. In both follow-up waves, use was independently predicted by higher baseline walking and cycling (e.g. 2012 adjusted rate ratio 2.09 (95% CI 1.55, 2.81) for >450 min/week vs. none). Moreover, there was strong specificity by mode and purpose, e.g. baseline walking for recreation specifically predicted walking for recreation on the infrastructure. Other independent predictors included living near the infrastructure, better general health and higher education or income.
Conclusions: The new infrastructure was well-used by local adults, and this was sustained over two years. Thus far, however, the infrastructure may primarily have attracted existing walkers and cyclists, and may have catered more to the socio-economically advantaged. This may limit its impacts on population health and health equity.
Keywords: Built environment; Cycling; Infrastructure; Walking.