Active Transportation, Context, and Community Participation: Engaged Citizens and Destination-Based Walking and Biking
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Active transportation is associated with many benefits, including improved health outcomes, higher commuting satisfaction, lower pollution, reduced traffic, and social capital. One understudied area of research on active transportation and social capital is the relationship between active transportation and community participation. Although prior work has established a connection, little is known about the contexts in which this relationship may occur, or about how active transportation may affect the relationship between a context and community participation.
The purpose of Chapter 3 is to examine how active transportation may mediate the relationship between perceptions of place and community participation. Significant work has examined subjective neighborhood perceptions and aspects of social capital; however, scant work has considered active transportation as a mediator in these relationships. Using representative data from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (n = 1758), path analysis within a structural equation modeling framework assessed mediation, including direct, indirect, and total effects. Results suggest perceptions of place (well-maintained, interesting places with walkable destinations) has a relationship to community participation; however, when assessed for mediation through active transportation, only an indirect effect remained significant, indicating the relationship between perception of place and community participation occurs through active transportation.
Chapter 4 examines the relationship between active transportation and community participation in six low- and middle-income countries. The vast majority of active transportation research examines North America, Europe, and Australia, with no known studies investigating active transportation and community participation in low- or middle-income national contexts. This chapter used data from the World Health Organization’s Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE), which includes representative data from China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa (n = 35,064) for adults aged 50 and older. Results find a relationship between active transportation and community participation in Ghana, Russia, and South Africa but not in China, India, or Mexico.
This dissertation's findings indicate both context and active transportation matter for community participation. Biking and walking for transportation inherently occurs in public spaces. Public contexts are important, but how contexts are used (i.e., for active transport) makes a difference for how they impact community participation.
Stroope, Jessica, "Active Transportation, Context, and Community Participation: Engaged Citizens and Destination-Based Walking and Biking" (2023). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 6154.
Available for download on Saturday, May 16, 2026