Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 1321–1340 | Cite as

Patterns of Walking Among Employed, Urban Canadians: Variations by Commuting Mode, Time of Day, and Days of the Week



This paper illustrates the facility of time-use files to enhance the understanding of behavioral components of commuting. It draws on data from Statistics Canada’s most recent national General Social Survey (2010) to substantiate prior research on the extent that use of public transit for commuting to work is accompanied in people’s days by a greater amount of walking. By verifying alternative explanations for this relationship, the paper explores more thoroughly how walking fits into the daily lives of employed persons in large urban areas. Results show that travel by car comprises upwards of 80 per cent of trips regardless of the hour of the day, while public transportation is used mostly to get to and from paid work. Although walking generally accompanies such transit commutes and is shown to fit sequentially into transit’s temporal patterns, walking spreads out more evenly across the day than transit use and helps complete other trip purposes. The weekday walking pattern extends to weekend days to a surprisingly similar extent, confirming that transit is but one of numerous generators of walking trips. Statistically significant relationships link minutes walked to household income, access to a car, and main mode used for commuting. However, the pre-eminence of commuting by car raises questions about the effective priorities and constraints underlying choice of main commuting mode. More detailed characterization of transit access and subjective questions in time-use surveys could facilitate greater insight into the rationales of the subgroup choosing public transit and walking more frequently and for longer duration.


Mass transit, Time use, Access, Travel, Active transportation, 



The authors would like to gratefully acknowledge the Social Science and Humanities Research Council and the Fonds québécois de recherche sur la société et la culture for funding the second author’s research project on time use and travel. The Data Library at the University of Toronto is also acknowledged for creating and maintaining the merged time use files in their archives.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Département d’études urbaines et touristiques, École des sciences de la gestionUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada

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