Brown, B.B., Tharp, D., Tribby, C.P., Smith, K.R., Miller, H.J., Werner, C.M. (2016) ‘Changes in bicycling over time associated with a new bike lane: Relations with kilocalories energy expenditure and body mass index,” Journal of Transport and Health, 3, 357-365.
- We tracked bicycling activity over two years using accelerometers and GPS loggers.
- Any cycling relates to more calories burned but not lower BMI.
- Cyclists burn more calories on their cycling days than on their non-cycling days.
- Cyclists burn more calories than non-cyclists, even on non-cycling days.
- Greater use of a urban bike lane related to lower BMI and more calories burned.
Although bicycling has been related to positive health indicators, few studies examine health-related measures associated with non-competitive community cycling before and after cycling infrastructure improvements. This study examined cycling changes in a neighborhood receiving a bike lane, light rail, and other “complete street” improvements. Participants wore accelerometers and global positioning system (GPS) data loggers for one week in both 2012 and 2013, pre- and post-construction completion. Participants sampled within 2 km of the complete street improvements had the following patterns of cycling: never cyclists (n=434), continuing cyclists (n= 29), former cyclists (n=33, who bicycled in 2012 but not 2013), and new cyclists (n=40, who bicycled in 2013 but not 2012). Results show that all three cycling groups, as identified by GPS/accelerometry data, expended more estimated kilocalories (kcal) of energy per minute during the monitoring week than those who were never detected cycling, net of control variables. Similar but attenuated results emerged when cycling self-report measures were used. BMI was not related to cycling group but those who cycled longer on the new path had lower BMI. Although cyclists burn more calories than non-cyclists across the week, among cyclists, their cycling days involved more calories expended than their non-cycling days. The new cyclists account for 39% of the cyclists identified in this study and former cyclists account for 32% of cyclists. These results suggest that cycling is healthy, but that sustaining rates of cycling will be an important goal for future policy and research.