The health and economic impacts of active travel

Project Details

Understanding how local and regional accessibility are associated with active travel, and related health and economic impacts

The project models the physical activity and health economic impacts of the ease of walking and cycling to essential destinations within neighbourhoods and commuting in Melbourne.

Physical activity and walking are vital for wellbeing. The accessibility and “walkability” of where we live and work is key to supporting walking and increasing population levels of physical activity. Public health practitioners, urban planners and the transport sector across the world face a common challenge; shifting people from private vehicles to active forms of transport.

This project investigates how local accessibility (e.g. having nearby shops and services at home and around work) and regional accessibility (e.g. having efficient public transport to work or study) are related to walking and cycling. It also examines the complex relationships between adult’s and children’s travel needs and household travel resources such as income, car ownership and licensing, to estimate the economic and health cost of inequalities in opportunities for active travel.

The research is a collaboration between four universities (University of Melbourne, RMIT, Deakin University and Australian Catholic University) and three industry partners (VicRoads, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources and VicHealth). The research utilises valuable data from these industry partners including a household travel survey on adults and children’s travel patterns (The Victorian Integrated Survey of Travel and Activity or VISTA) and transport modelling data on road and public transport travel times across metropolitan Melbourne

The project will produce evidence on individual, built environment and transport systems characteristics associated with active travel for people at different stages of the life course. This information is crucial to facilitate transport system changes that can support environmental sustainability and population health. Importantly, this project will strengthen a long-term research alliance with our three industry partners.


A/Professor Rebecca Bentley
Professor Billie Giles-Corti RMIT
Dr Hannah Badland, RMIT
Dr Annette Magnus, Deakin University
Dr Allison Barr
Dr Suzanne Mavoa
Mr Giles Micheaux,VicRoads
Ms Rayoni Nelson, VicHealth
Dr Jan Scheurer, Curtin University, RMIT
Mr Joshua Stewart, Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure


Australian Research Council and VicHealth Promotion Foundation

Research Publications

Barr, A, Bentley R, Simpson J, Scheurer J , Owen N, Dunstan D, Thornton L, Krnjacki L & Kavanagh A. Associations of public transport accessibility with walking, obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Journal of Transport & Health. 3 (2). 2016

Research Group

School Research Themes

Disparities, disadvantage and effective health care

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Centre for Health Equity

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