Which Transport Policies Increase Physical Activity of the Whole of Society? A Systematic Review

Key Takeaways:

  • Policies supporting “Convenient Transport Infrastructure’ such as implementing bike lanes, convenient footpaths, walking trails, and pedestrian crossings paths, or increasing the proximity of public transport stops had the greatest positive association with more physical activity than any of the other two policy areas.
  • Statewide programs promoting awareness about active mobility have the greatest impact on increased walking and biking and were most effective in increasing physical activity at the community-level.  
  • Active travel training and events such as bike skills training and campaigns that raise awareness about the benefits of walking, biking, and public transportation are effective in increasing rates of physical activity.


  • Safe Routes to School programs that work to develop education and encouragement programs, while also addressing improvements to the built environment in the surrounding community will have the maximum impact on community health and increase rates of physical activity.


  • A systematic review of 17 peer-reviewed research articles from seven different countries measured the impact of transportation policies on rates of physical activity.
  • Researchers categorized policies in three areas: convenient transport infrastructure, active travel promotion, and shift of transport mode. Respectively, these categories included the development and design of bicycle, pedestrian, and public transportation infrastructure; programs at school or work that provided education and encouragement for walking and biking; and supportive programs to encourage public transport and biking and discourage driving such as bike share or fare discounts.
  • Within each of the three policy areas, researchers identified specific policy actions. Examples of policy actions include adding sidewalks (convenient transport infrastructure), walk-to-school campaigns (active travel promotion), transit frequency (shift of transport mode), etc. Researchers designated a total of 51 policy actions.
  • Policy action related to active travel programming and promotion was evaluated on three levels, individual, organizational, and community-level programming. Individual-level action focused on policy actions aimed at individual human behavior; organizational-level action aimed to make change at the entity level, such as a school; and community-level action was anything that impacted community or population-level health.


Zukowska, Joanna, Anna Gobis, Piotr Krajewski, Agnieszka Morawiak, Romanika Okraszewska, Catherine B Woods, Kevin Volf, et al. “Which Transport Policies Increase Physical Activity of the Whole of Society? A Systematic Review.” The European Journal of Public Health 32, no. Suppl 2 (August 29, 2022): ckac093.045. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckac093.045.

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