Daily Bicycle and Pedestrian Activity as an Indicator of Disaster Recovery: A Hurricane Harvey Case Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Aug 8;16(16):2836. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16162836.


Changes in levels and patterns of physical activity might be a mechanism to assess and inform disaster recovery through the lens of wellbeing. However, few studies have examined disaster impacts on physical activity or the potential for physical activity to serve as an indicator of disaster recovery. In this exploratory study, we examined daily bicycle and pedestrian counts from four public bicycle/pedestrian trails in Houston, before and after Hurricane Harvey landfall, to assess if physical activity returned to pre-Harvey levels. An interrupted time series analysis was conducted to examine the immediate impact of Harvey landfall on physical activity; t-tests were performed to assess if trail usage returned to pre-Harvey levels. Hurricane Harvey was found to have a significant negative impact on daily pedestrian and bicycle counts for three of the four trails. Daily pedestrian and bicycle counts were found to return to pre-Harvey or higher levels at 6 weeks post-landfall at all locations studied. We discuss the potential for further research to examine the trends, feasibility, validity, and limitations of using bicycle and pedestrian use levels as a proxy for disaster recovery and wellbeing among affected populations.

Keywords: disaster recovery; physical activity; wellbeing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bicycling / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cyclonic Storms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Disaster Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Disasters / statistics & numerical data*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pedestrians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Texas