Health impacts of nonmotorized travel behavior and the built environment: Evidence from the 2017 National Household Travel Survey

The health impacts of nonmotorized travel behavior (i.e., walking and bicycling) and the built environment have been widely investigated in the past. However, nationwide studies probing the association between the neighborhood built environment and individuals' nonmotorized travel and health status remain scarce. Utilizing national-level databases from the U.S., the present study examines the role of nonmotorized travel and neighborhood-level built environment attributes in residents’ self-assessed overall health status. This research relies on data from the 2017 National Household Travel Survey and employs ordered probit modeling techniques to relate self-assessed overall health status to various variables representing the extent of nonmotorized travel and physical activity as well as the built and social environment attributes of the residential location. The results indicate that individuals’ self-assessed health status is associated with i) their person-level attributes including the levels of their walking and bicycling travel and other physical activity; ii) the social environment attributes of both their household and their residential neighborhood including income and vehicle ownership levels; and iii) the built environment attributes of their neighborhood including the extent of: compactness, mixed-use development, transit accessibility, and automobile-friendliness of the road network within the neighborhood. Furthermore, average marginal effects computations indicate that the most important neighborhood built environment factor in increasing the likelihood of reporting a very good or excellent health status is higher levels of transit accessibility. The findings of this study suggest that more effective policies to promote individuals' health through changes targeting their travel behavior and their neighborhood's built environment may be the ones that: a) encourage walking and bicycling travel, and b) foster neighborhood designs that support more active lifestyles through increased levels of transit accessibility, activity density, and land use diversity, as well as through decreased levels of automobile-friendliness of the street network.


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  • Accession Number: 01849867
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 27 2022 2:35PM