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Environmental and Policy Approaches to Increase Physical Activity: Transportation and Travel Policies and Practices

Transportation and travel policies and practices can encourage walking and bicycling as a means of transportation by:

  • Facilitating walking, bicycling, and public transportation use
  • Increasing the safety of walking and bicycling
  • Reducing car use
  • Improving air quality

These interventions can encourage environmental changes that support these goals by changing roadway design standards, creating or enhancing bike lanes, expanding or subsidizing public transportation, providing bicycle racks on buses, and increasing parking costs.

Summary of Task Force Recommendations and Findings

The Community Preventive Services Task Force finds insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of transportation and travel policies and practices in increasing levels of physical activity or improving fitness because only one study qualified for review.

Results from the Systematic Reviews

  • The single qualifying study measured the proportion of university students who walked to school rather than driving, when free transit was made available; 6 months after the intervention began, 57% more students chose walking, with a sustained effect of 14% after 1 year.
  • These interventions have the potential to improve air quality and green space, increase commerce, improve aesthetics, and decrease stress.

These results were based on a systematic review of all available studies, conducted on behalf of the Task Force by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice, and policy related to increasing physical activity.

Economic Review

An economic review of this intervention was not conducted because the Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine its effectiveness.

Support Materials


Heath GW, Brownson RC, Kruger J, et al. The effectiveness of urban design and land use and transport policies and practices to increase physical activity: a systematic review. Journal of Physical Activity and Health 2006;3(Suppl 1):S55-76.

Read other Community Guide publications about Increasing Physical Activity in our library.


The findings and conclusions on this page are those of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and do not necessarily represent those of CDC. Task Force evidence-based recommendations are not mandates for compliance or spending. Instead, they provide information and options for decision makers and stakeholders to consider when determining which programs, services, and policies best meet the needs, preferences, available resources, and constraints of their constituents.

Sample Citation

The content of publications of the Guide to Community Preventive Services is in the public domain. Citation as to source, however, is appreciated. Sample citation: Guide to Community Preventive Services. Environmental and policy approaches to increase physical activity: transportation and travel policies and practices. Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.

Review completed: February 2004