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876. Public support for bicycling and transport policies in inner Sydney, Australia: a cross sectional survey

Research Article
Rissel, C, Crane, M, Standen, C, Wen, L, Ellison, R, Greaves, S.
June 2018

Commentary by Layla Riley, Senior Project Officer (Physical Activity), Heart Foundation.

The study analysed data collected from a cross-sectional online survey. It was repeated in September–October 2014, four months after a bicycle path opened (Wave 2), and again in September–October 2015, 16 months after opening (Wave 3). The current analysis focused on the sample of participants in the third wave of data collection (n=418, 49.4% of the baseline sample). 

Results showed a high level of overall support for policies to make public transport cheaper (85%), have more bicycle paths separated from motor vehicles (82%) and have a public bike-share program (72%). However, it was documented that cyclists were over-represented in the sample, and therefore attitudes towards active travel were positively skewed. For this reason, the sample was weighted to the population to observe differences. Also, the age range of participants excluded those older than 55 years, and it is likely that older adults have different attitudes towards transport policies than younger respondents.  Overall, there is a high level of community support for the provision of cycle paths in this inner-Sydney sample, and for improvements to public transport. The implementation of policies to promote active transport would likely be well supported by inner-city residents.  Globally, in addition to emphases on public transport, some governments and cities are enacting polices to encourage more transport trips by bicycle. The Sydney study highlights barriers concerned but states that if able to move past them, encouraging active transport is important, particularly as we consider the health of our cities in the future. In addition, active transport offers enormous potential for increased community physical activity that is sustainable, and could contribute to improved community amenity through reduced congestion and less pollution from motor vehicles.  The report concludes that despite a natural tendency for respondents to support transport policies that were of most relevance to themselves, it appeared that in this Sydney sample, support for public transport and bicycling policies remained strong across all respondents. This study links to recent developments such as, the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity (GAPPA), and shows there is a widespread acceptance of measures to make inner city areas cyclist friendly; making it easier and safer for people to be active. The project was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant.

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