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Many short trips are made by car, and replacing them with walking is a potential strategy to increase physical activity at the population level. The prevalence and correlates of walkable short car trips were examined among adults aged 18–84 years living in the state of Queensland, Australia. Participants (N=14,481) reported their travel behaviors using a 24-h travel diary in the 2009 South East Queensland Travel Survey (SEQTS). A threshold distance within which adults can walk was first identified using the SEQTS data. Consistent with previous studies, we used the 80th percentile distance in walking trips, determined for specific age groups (18–34, 35–49, 50–64, and 65–84 years) and gender, as the distance threshold. This ranged from 1.6 to 2.0 km for a single trip, and 3.4 to 4.7 km for a trip chain. Car trips that did not exceed the distance threshold were regarded as short trips. The study found that 7% of all car trips were short enough to be walked, and 11% of participants reported at least one short trip on the survey day either as a driver or passenger. Short car trips were more likely to be made by middle-to-older aged adults, women, those who were unemployed, those who had children in the household, those living in the middle-to-most disadvantaged areas, and those living in higher population density areas. The findings suggest a potential for some car trips to be converted into walking among some population groups in Australia. Initiatives to replace short car trips with walking may be particularly effective in higher density areas where local destinations are within a walking distance. Barriers that discourage walking will need to be addressed to facilitate walking trips among middle-to-older adults and in disadvantaged areas.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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