Are we losing an urban myth? Does transit use promote fitness? A new study says that’s not always the case:
The widely held notion that better public transit encourages more physical activity feels true. It fits the dualistic picture of urban/suburban health that city boosters often paint: Drivers roll from garage to parking lot with nary a step taken, while bus and rail riders get their hearts pumping on brisk walks or bike trips to and from the station. City officials love to tout transit’s health benefits in marketing campaigns, as do planners, developers, and transit advocates.
But the connection doesn’t seem to be so black-and-white. New findings by the University of Southern California and UC Irvine published in Transportation Research should give “walkability” proselytizers some pause. This is one of the most comprehensive studies to date examining how access to light rail influences physical activity, and it found that having rapid transit nearby can boost steps for some—but can decrease them for others.
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