Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 90, Issue 4, pp 575–585 | Cite as

Neighborhood Walkability and Active Travel (Walking and Cycling) in New York City

  • Lance Freeman
  • Kathryn Neckerman
  • Ofira Schwartz-Soicher
  • James Quinn
  • Catherine Richards
  • Michael D. M. Bader
  • Gina Lovasi
  • Darby Jack
  • Christopher Weiss
  • Kevin Konty
  • Peter Arno
  • Deborah Viola
  • Bonnie Kerker
  • Andrew G. RundleEmail author


Urban planners have suggested that built environment characteristics can support active travel (walking and cycling) and reduce sedentary behavior. This study assessed whether engagement in active travel is associated with neighborhood walkability measured for zip codes in New York City. Data were analyzed on engagement in active travel and the frequency of walking or biking ten blocks or more in the past month, from 8,064 respondents to the New York City 2003 Community Health Survey (CHS). A neighborhood walkability scale that measures: residential, intersection, and subway stop density; land use mix; and the ratio of retail building floor area to retail land area was calculated for each zip code. Data were analyzed using zero-inflated negative binomial regression incorporating survey sample weights and adjusting for respondents’ sociodemographic characteristics. Overall, 44 % of respondents reported no episodes of active travel and among those who reported any episode, the mean number was 43.2 episodes per month. Comparing the 75th to the 25th percentile of zip code walkability, the odds ratio for reporting zero episodes of active travel was 0.71 (95 % CI 0.61, 0.83) and the exponentiated beta coefficient for the count of episodes of active travel was 1.13 (95 % CI 1.06, 1.21). Associations between lower walkability and reporting zero episodes of active travel were significantly stronger for non-Hispanic Whites as compared to non-Hispanic Blacks and to Hispanics and for those living in higher income zip codes. The results suggest that neighborhood walkability is associated with higher engagement in active travel.


Active travel Neighborhood walkability Urban health Walking 



Community Health Survey


Department of Health and Mental Hygiene


New York City


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lance Freeman
    • 1
  • Kathryn Neckerman
    • 2
  • Ofira Schwartz-Soicher
    • 3
  • James Quinn
    • 2
  • Catherine Richards
    • 4
  • Michael D. M. Bader
    • 5
  • Gina Lovasi
    • 4
  • Darby Jack
    • 4
  • Christopher Weiss
    • 2
  • Kevin Konty
    • 6
  • Peter Arno
    • 7
  • Deborah Viola
    • 7
  • Bonnie Kerker
    • 6
  • Andrew G. Rundle
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and PreservationColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Social and Economic Research and PolicyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.School of Social WorkColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Mailman School of Public HealthColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Department of SociologyAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA
  6. 6.New York City Department of Health and Mental HygieneNew YorkUSA
  7. 7.Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Health Sciences and PracticeNew York Medical CollegeValhallaUSA

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