New study links low-cost and free recreation facilities near work sites with active commuting

By Bill Holloway

A recently released study from researchers at Washington University in St. Louis has added further detail to our understanding of the link between commuting mode choice and workplace and environmental variables. The study relied on phone interviews with 1,338 commuters living in metropolitan areas in Missouri.  It bolsters the findings of previous studies, linking residential proximity to transit stops and employer-provided free or reduced-price transit passes to commuters’ likelihood of choosing transit, and linking shorter commuting distances and the availability of bike parking at workplaces to commuters’ decisions to bike or walk to work.

One new takeaway from the study is the link between active commuting and the availability of free or low-cost recreation facilities in the worksite neighborhood. Facilities like parks, walking trails, bike paths, and recreational centers near worksites could provide an added incentive for commuters to choose active transportation modes by giving them recreational opportunities before or after work.

The results of the study can also be used to support arguments that relatively low-cost investments in transportation demand management—such as subsidized transit passes or bicycle parking at worksites—can pay big dividends in both lowering the need for parking and relieving peak-hour congestion.

Bill Holloway is a Transportation Policy Analyst at SSTI.