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Concept: Commuting


Objective To investigate the association between active commuting and incident cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and all cause mortality.Design Prospective population based study. Setting UK Biobank.Participants 263 450 participants (106 674 (52%) women; mean age 52.6), recruited from 22 sites across the UK. The exposure variable was the mode of transport used (walking, cycling, mixed mode v non-active (car or public transport)) to commute to and from work on a typical day.Main outcome measures Incident (fatal and non-fatal) CVD and cancer, and deaths from CVD, cancer, or any causes.Results 2430 participants died (496 were related to CVD and 1126 to cancer) over a median of 5.0 years (interquartile range 4.3-5.5) follow-up. There were 3748 cancer and 1110 CVD events. In maximally adjusted models, commuting by cycle and by mixed mode including cycling were associated with lower risk of all cause mortality (cycling hazard ratio 0.59, 95% confidence interval 0.42 to 0.83, P=0.002; mixed mode cycling 0.76, 0.58 to 1.00, P<0.05), cancer incidence (cycling 0.55, 0.44 to 0.69, P<0.001; mixed mode cycling 0.64, 0.45 to 0.91, P=0.01), and cancer mortality (cycling 0.60, 0.40 to 0.90, P=0.01; mixed mode cycling 0.68, 0.57 to 0.81, P<0.001). Commuting by cycling and walking were associated with a lower risk of CVD incidence (cycling 0.54, 0.33 to 0.88, P=0.01; walking 0.73, 0.54 to 0.99, P=0.04) and CVD mortality (cycling 0.48, 0.25 to 0.92, P=0.03; walking 0.64, 0.45 to 0.91, P=0.01). No statistically significant associations were observed for walking commuting and all cause mortality or cancer outcomes. Mixed mode commuting including walking was not noticeably associated with any of the measured outcomes.Conclusions Cycle commuting was associated with a lower risk of CVD, cancer, and all cause mortality. Walking commuting was associated with a lower risk of CVD independent of major measured confounding factors. Initiatives to encourage and support active commuting could reduce risk of death and the burden of important chronic conditions.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Disease, Statistics, Death, Median, Sustainable transport, Bicycle, Commuting


People with low income often experience higher exposures to air pollutants. We compared the exposure to particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5 and PM10), Black Carbon (BC) and ultrafine particles (PNCs; 0.02-1μm) for typical commutes by car, bus and underground from 4 London areas with different levels of income deprivation (G1 to G4, from most to least deprived). The highest BC and PM concentrations were found in G1 while the highest PNC in G3. Lowest concentrations for all pollutants were observed in G2. We found no systematic relationship between income deprivation and pollutant concentrations, suggesting that differences between transport modes are a stronger influence. The underground showed the highest PM concentrations, followed by buses and a much lower concentrations in cars. BC concentrations in the underground were overestimated due to Fe interference. BC concentrations were also higher in buses than cars because of a lower infiltration of outside pollutants into the car cabin. PNCs were highest in buses, closely followed by cars, but lowest in underground due to the absence of combustion sources. Concentration in the road modes (car and bus) were governed by the traffic conditions (such as traffic flow interruptions) at the specific road section. Exposures were reduced in trains with non-openable windows compared to those with openable windows. People from less income-deprived areas have a predominant use of car, receiving the lowest doses (RDD<1μgh(-1)) during commute but generating the largest emissions per commuter. Conversely, commuters from high income-deprived areas have a major reliance on the bus, receiving higher exposures (RDD between 1.52 and 3.49μgh(-1)) while generating less emission per person. These findings suggest an aspect of environmental injustice and a need to incorporate the socioeconomic dimension in life-course exposure assessments.

Concepts: Pollution, Particulate, Road, Air pollution, Diesel particulate matter, Bus, Bicycle, Commuting


Active commuting - walking and bicycling for travel to and/or from work or educational addresses - may facilitate daily, routine physical activity. Several studies have investigated the relationship between active commuting and commuting stress; however, there are no studies examining the relationship between solely bicycle commuting and perceived stress, or studies that account for environmental determinants of bicycle commuting and stress. The current study evaluated the relationship between bicycle commuting, among working or studying adults in a dense urban setting, and perceived stress.

Concepts: Cycling, Automobile, Sustainable transport, Bicycle, Bicycle helmet, Utility cycling, Commuting, Human-powered transport


We measured real-time exposure to PM(2.5), ultrafine PM (particle number) and carbon monoxide (CO) for commuting workers school children, and traffic police, in Jakarta, Indonesia. In total, we measured exposures for 36 individuals covering 93days. Commuters in private cars experienced mean (st dev) exposures of 22 (9.4) ppm CO, 91 (38) μg/m(3)PM(2.5), and 290 (150)×10(3) particlescm(-3). Mean concentrations were higher in public transport than in private cars for PM(2.5) (difference in means: 22%) and particle counts (54%), but not CO, likely reflecting in-vehicle particle losses in private cars owing to air-conditioning. However, average commute times were longer for private car commuters than public transport commuters (in our sample, 24% longer: 3.0 vs. 2.3h per day). Commute and traffic-related exposures experienced by Jakarta residents are among the highest in the world, owing to high on-road concentrations and multi-hour commutes.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Mode, Arithmetic mean, Carbon monoxide, Mean, Automobile, Commuting, Park and ride


Research suggests that for many people happiness is being able to make the routines of everyday life work, such that positive feelings dominate over negative feelings resulting from daily hassles. In line with this, a survey of work commuters in the three largest urban areas of Sweden show that satisfaction with the work commute contributes to overall happiness. It is also found that feelings during the commutes are predominantly positive or neutral. Possible explanatory factors include desirable physical exercise from walking and biking, as well as that short commutes provide a buffer between the work and private spheres. For longer work commutes, social and entertainment activities either increase positive affects or counteract stress and boredom. Satisfaction with being employed in a recession may also spill over to positive experiences of work commutes. ELECTRONIC SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL: The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11205-012-0003-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Concepts: Physical exercise, Exercise, Urban area, Addition, Cycling, Explanation, The Work, Commuting


Introduction The ‘Safety in Numbers’ (SiN) phenomenon refers to a decline of injury risk per time or distance exposed as use of a mode increases. It has been demonstrated for cycling using cross-sectional data, but little evidence exists as to whether the effect applies longitudinally -that is, whether changes in cycling levels correlate with changes in per-cyclist injury risks.Methods This paper examines cross-sectional and longitudinal SiN effects in 202 local authorities in Britain, using commuting data from 1991, 2001 and 2011 censuses plus police -recorded data on ‘killed and seriously injured’ (KSI) road traffic injuries. We modelled a log-linear relationship between number of injuries and number of cycle commuters. Second, we conducted longitudinal analysis to examine whether local authorities where commuter cycling increased became safer (and vice versa).Results The paper finds a cross-sectional SiN effect exists in the 1991, 2001 and 2011 censuses. The longitudinal analysis also found a SiN effect, that is, places where cycling increased were more likely to become safer than places where it had declined. Finally, these longitudinal results are placed in the context of changes in pedestrian, cyclist and motorist safety. While between 1991 and 2001 all modes saw declines in KSI risk (37% for pedestrians, 36% for cyclists and 27% for motor vehicle users), between 2001 and 2011 pedestrians and motorists saw even more substantial declines (41% and 49%), while risk for cyclists increased by 4%.Conclusion The SiN mechanism does seem to operate longitudinally as well as cross-sectionally. However, at a national level between 2001-11 it co-existed with an increase in cyclist injury risk both in absolute terms and in relation to other modes.

Concepts: Injury, Physical trauma, Traffic, Driving, Automobile, Pedestrian, Bicycle, Commuting


This study investigated differences in health outcomes between active and passive school commuters, and examined associations between parent perceptions of the neighborhood environment and active school commuting (ASC). One hundred-ninety-four children (107 girls), aged 9-10 years from ten primary schools in Liverpool, England, participated in this cross-sectional study. Measures of stature, body mass, waist circumference and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) were taken. School commute mode (active/passive) was self-reported and parents completed the neighborhood environment walkability scale for youth. Fifty-three percent of children commuted to school actively. Schoolchildren who lived in more deprived neighborhoods perceived by parents as being highly connected, unaesthetic and having mixed land-use were more likely to commute to school actively (p < 0.05). These children were at greatest risk of being obese and aerobically unfit(p < 0.01). Our results suggest that deprivation may explain the counterintuitive relationship between obesity, CRF and ASC in Liverpool schoolchildren. These findings encourage researchers and policy makers to be equally mindful of the social determinants of health when advocating behavioral and environmental health interventions. Further research exploring contextual factors to ASC, and examining the concurrent effect of ASC and diet on weight status by deprivation is needed.

Concepts: Nutrition, Obesity, Body mass index, Mind, Primary school, Primary education, School, Commuting


Although commuting provides an opportunity for incorporating physical activity into daily routines, little is known about the effect of active commuting upon depressive symptoms. This study aimed to determine whether changes in commute mode are associated with differences in the severity of depressive symptoms in working adults. Commuters were selected from the UK Biobank cohort if they completed ≥2 assessment centre visits between 2006 and 2016. Modes of travel to work were self-reported at each visit. Participants were categorised as ‘inactive’ (car only) or ‘active’ commuters (any other mode(s), including walking, cycling and public transport). Transitions between categories were defined between pairs of visits. The severity of depressive symptoms was defined using the two-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-2). Scores were derived between zero and six. Higher values indicate more severe symptoms. Separate analyses were conducted in commuters who were asymptomatic (zero score) and symptomatic (non-zero score) at baseline. The analytical sample comprised 5474 participants aged 40-75 at baseline with a mean follow-up of 4.65 years. Asymptomatic commuters who transitioned from inactive to active commuting reported less severe symptoms at follow-up than those who remained inactive (β -0.10, 95% CI [-0.20, 0.00]; N = 3145). A similar but non-significant relationship is evident among commuters with pre-existing symptoms (β -0.60, 95% CI [-1.27, 0.08]; N = 1078). After adjusting for transition category, longer commutes at baseline were associated with worse depressive symptoms at follow-up among symptomatic participants. Shifting from exclusive car use towards more active commuting may help prevent and attenuate depressive symptoms in working adults.

Concepts: Cycling, Travel, Transportation, Train, Bicycle, Commuting, Mode of transport, Park and ride


Commuting is considered as one of the high-exposure periods among various daily activities, especially in high vehicle-density metropolitan areas. There is a growing awareness of the need to change our transportation habits by reducing our use of cars and shifting instead to active transport, i.e. walking or cycling. A review was undertaken using the ISI web of knowledge database with the objective to better understand personal exposure during commuting by different modes of transport, and to suggest potential strategies to minimise exposure. The air pollutants studied include particulate matter, PM black carbon, BC and particle number concentration. We focused only in European studies in order to have comparable situation in terms of vehicle fleet and policy regulations applied. Studies on personal exposure to air pollutants during car commuting are more numerous than those dealing with other types of transport, and typically conclude by emphasising that travelling by car involves exposure to relatively high particulate matter, PM exposure concentrations. Thus, compared to other transport methods, travelling by car has been shown to involve exposure both to higher PM and BC as compared with cycling. Widespread dependence on private car transport has produced a significant daily health threat to the urban commuter. However, a forward-looking, integrated transport policy, involving the phased renovation of existing public vehicles and the withdrawal of the more polluting private vehicles, combined with incentives to use public transport and the encouragement of commuter physical exercise, would reduce commuters' exposure.

Concepts: Pollution, Transport, Particulate, Air pollution, Transportation, Automobile, Bicycle, Commuting


Commuting is an important aspect of daily life for many employees, but there is little knowledge of how this affects individual commuters' health and well-being. The authors investigated the relationship between commuting and subjective health complaints, using data from a web-based questionnaire. In a sample of 2126 railway employees, 644 (30.3%) had long commute times. A 29-item inventory was used to measure the number and degree of the subjective health complaints. Those who commuted 60 min or more each way were characterized by significantly higher numbers and degrees of subjective health complaints compared with their peers with short commutes. The mean number of complaints was 7.5 among the former group and 6.4 for the latter group (p = 0.009). In a regression model, in which the authors controlled for age, gender, education, self-rated health, and coping, the employees with long commutes reported more complaints than those with short commutes. Significant associations were found between those with long commutes and the number and degree of incidences of self-reported musculoskeletal pain, pseudo-neurologic complaints, and gastrointestinal problems. Commuters who had had long commutes for more than 10 years reported more gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal complaints than those with long commutes for less than 2 years. Also, commuters with long commutes spent less time with their families and leisure activities compared with those with short commutes. The authors conclude that the association between long commute times and higher levels of subjective health complaints should attract the attention of transport planners, employers, and public health policymaker.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Health, Statistics, Degree, Arithmetic mean, Personal life, Leisure, Commuting