Background: This study examined whether characteristics of the residential built environment (i.e. population density, level of mixed land use, connectivity, accessibility of facilities, accessibility of green) contributed to educational inequalities in walking and cycling among adults.
Methods: Data from participants (32-82 years) of the 2011 survey of the Dutch population-based GLOBE study were used (N = 2375). Highest attained educational level (independent variable) and walking for transport, cycling for transport, walking in leisure time and cycling in leisure time (dependent variables) were self-reported in the survey. GIS-systems were used to obtain spatial data on residential built environment characteristics. A four-step mediation-based analysis with log-linear regression models was used to examine to contribution of the residential built environment to educational inequalities in walking and cycling.
Results: As compared to the lowest educational group, the highest educational group was more likely to cycle for transport (RR 1.13, 95% CI 1.04-1.23), walk in leisure time (RR 1.12, 95% CI 1.04-1.21), and cycle in leisure time (RR 1.12, 95% CI 1.03-1.22). Objective built environment characteristics were related to these outcomes, but contributed minimally to educational inequalities in walking and cycling. On the other hand, compared to the lowest educational group, the highest educational group was less likely to walk for transport (RR 0.91, 95% CI 0.82-1.01), which could partly be attributed to differences in the built environment.
Conclusion: This study found that objective built environment characteristics contributed minimally to educational inequalities in walking and cycling in the Netherlands.
Keywords: Built environment; Cycling; GIS; Health inequalities; Neighborhood; Walking.