Effect of neighbourhood motorization rates on walking levels

Marta Olabarria, Katherine Pérez, Elena Santamariña-Rubio, Ana M. Novoa, Francesca Racioppi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Motorized traffic may discourage people walking. This study analyses the influence of motorization on pedestrian mobility in the neighbourhoods of a European city, controlling for environmental, sociodemographic, mobility and road safety characteristics of the neighbourhood in which each trip was made. Methods: Cross-sectional ecological study using the 38 neighbourhoods of Barcelona as the unit of analysis. Mobility information was obtained from the 2006 Daily Mobility Survey. Walking rates were calculated for 32.343 men and women who made walking trips, per 1000 men and women who made trips in the 38 neighbourhoods. Data were aggregated to calculate the total number of motorized trips made in each neighbourhood. β coefficients and their confidence intervals were calculated using Poisson regression, in order to study the relationship between walking and motorization, in the different tertiles of motorization and adjusting for contextual factors and their corresponding interactions with motorization. Results: Levels of motorization in the neighbourhood negatively influence walking, even when environmental variables of the neighbourhood are considered. In men we observe a gradient whereby walking rates fall as motorization rises (β = -0.248; P < 0.001 and β = -0.363; P < 0.001 in the second and third quartiles of motorization, respectively). In the case of women we find that only high levels of motorization have a negative influence on the rates of women who walk. (β = -0.256; P < 0.001). Conclusion: Motorized traffic discourages people walking. Motorization is a modifiable environment-related factor which should be taken into account when designing policies to promote safe active travel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)740-747
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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