Walking and cycling to work can diminish health-harming sedentary behavior, reduce traffic noise and improve air quality. It is also accessible to most people – to those too, who do not have money, time, place or interest for recreational physical activity. Research suggests multilevel approach to promote active commuting to work (ACW) but the number of studies applying the approach is limited.
The study evaluated the effects of 1) environmental improvements in walking and cycling paths and 2) social and behavioral strategies on active commuting to work in a large workplace area in Tampere, Finland.
Setting and design
The study included two phases. Phase 1 was a pre-post evaluation and Phase 2 was a cluster-randomized, controlled trial. In Phase 1, 11 workplaces (1823 employees) from Area 1 were exposed to environmental improvements in walking and cycling paths. In Phase 2, five more workplaces (826 employees) were recruited from Area 2 and all workplaces were randomized into experimental group (EXP) promoting ACW with social and behavioral strategies and comparison group (COM) participating only in data collection. Process and impact evaluation with questionnaires, travel diaries, accelerometers, traffic calculations, and auditing were conducted.
After Phase 1, positive change was seen in the self-reported number of days, which the employees intended to cycle part of their journey to work in the following week. After Phase 2, intervention effect was observed in the proportion of employees, who reported willingness to increase walking
and cycling and who felt having opportunity to cycle part of the journey to work. To conclude, the intervention facilitated employees’ motivation for ACW, which is the first step towards behavior change.
Research Group and Collaborators
The study was coordinated by the UKK institute for health promotion. It initiated local transdisciplinary collaboration between the fields of health promotion (the UKK Institute), urban planning (Tampere university of technology / School of Architecture) and transportation (Tampere University of Technology / Verne Traffic Research Center, City of Tampere / Traffic Planning and Ecofellows Ltd). Other collaborators were University of Oxford (United Kingdom) and University of Graz (Austria).
Minna Aittasalo, Senior Researcher
Aittasalo M, Tiilikainen J, Tokola K, Seimelä T, Sarjala S-M, Metsäpuro P, Hynynen A, Suni J, Sievänen H, Vähä-Ypyä H, Vaismaa K, Vakkala O, Foster C, Titze S, Vasankari T. Socio-Ecological Intervention to Promote Active Commuting to Work: Protocol and Baseline Findings of a Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial in Finland. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2017;4:1257; doi:10.3390/ijerph14101257.
Aittasalo M, Tiilikainen J, Tokola K, Suni J, Sievänen H, Vähä-Ypyä H, Vasankari T, Seimelä T, Metsäpuro P, Foster C, Titze S. Socio-ecological natural experiment with randomized controlled trial to promote active commuting to work: Process evaluation, behavioral Impacts, and changes in the use and quality of walking and cycling paths. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2019;16:1661;doi:10.3390/ijerph16091661.
For all publications of this research, see the Finnish description. To find the list of publications (Julkaisuja), scroll the page down. To open the publication links, click “Lue lisaa” and “Lue julkaisu”.
Tools developed in the study
Last updated: 12.7.2023
Last updated: 3.8.2023