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Effects of a Transit Intervention on Environmental Perceptions and Active Transportation in Toronto, Canada

Authors: Tor Oiamo*, Ryerson University, Desislava Stefanova, Ryerson University
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Transportation Geography, Environmental Perception
Keywords: Active transportation; traffic safety; built environment ; environmental quality; transit accessibility
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Urban transportation network interventions provide unique opportunities to understand the relationships between physical activity, the built environment and access to public transit. While some research suggests improved transit accessibility is associated with reduced vehicle use and increased physical activity, there are mixed results when considering the population as a whole as it may reduce walking for people already utilizing the transit system. It is also unknown to what extent perceptions of environmental quality and the built environment can moderate the link between public transit and active transportation. This study surveyed nearby residents and employees as well as intercepted travellers along the King Street Transit Priority Corridor during the Pilot stage in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The project resulted in significant reductions to traffic flows and improved streetcar transit efficiency along a major thoroughfare in the central area of the city. The survey results showed that perceived safety was the strongest predictor of both increased physical activity and transit utilization, while perceptions of environmental quality were additionally strong predictors if increased physical activity. No access to a vehicle did not influence physical activity, but significantly increased the likelihood of increased transit use. Overall, the study showed that changes in travel behaviour were most notable for leisure activities, and that improved transit accessibility was only one of several factors that influences physical activity patters.

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