How many walking and cycling trips made by elderly are beyond commonly used buffer sizes: results from a GPS study

Health Place. 2014 May:27:127-33. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2014.01.012. Epub 2014 Mar 4.


In choosing appropriate buffer sizes to study environmental influences on physical activity, studies are hampered by insufficient insight into the distance elderly travel actively. This study aims at getting insight into the number of trips walked and cycled within various buffer sizes using GPS measures. Data were obtained from the Elderly And their Neighborhood study (Spijkenisse, the Netherlands (2011-2012)). Trip length and mode of transport were derived from the GPS data (N=120; total number of trips=337). Distance decay functions were fitted to estimate the percentage of trips to grocery stores within commonly used buffer sizes. Fifty percent of the trips walked had a distance of at least 729m; for trips cycled this was 1665m. Elderly aged under 75 years and those with functional limitations walked and cycled shorter distances than those over 75 years and those without functional limitations. Males cycled shorter distances than females. Distance decay functions may aid the selection of appropriate buffer sizes, which may be tailored to individual characteristics.

Keywords: Active transport; Buffer; Demographic differences; Distance; GIS.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Bicycling / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environment Design
  • Female
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data*