Active Transportation Surveillance—United States, 1999-2012

Key takeaway:

  • The prevalence of biking and walking for transportation varies by different national datasets.


  • Active commuting estimates ranged from 2.6-3.4%.
  • Active transportation captured in a single-day measure ranged from 10.5-18.5%, and habitual active transportation ranged from 23.9-31.4%.
  • There were no significant trends in active transportation prevalence over time.
  • The prevalence of active transportation was higher among men than women, younger than older respondents, and non-Hispanic whites than other racial/ethnic groups. Active transportation was highest among the least and most educated groups and more prevalent in urban areas than rural or suburban areas.
  • The ACS and NHTS gather data specifically on commute modes to work, NHTS and ATUS assess single-day trips, and NHANES and NHIS assess habitual physical activity for transportation.
  • Only the NHANES and NHIS surveillance systems collect data needed to calculate which survey participants meet aerobic activity requirements from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans through active transportation.


  • This report compares the prevalence of active transportation measurements among adults across five surveillance systems: American Community Survey (ACS), National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), National Time Use Survey (ATUS), National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).
  • The article provides a table describing the data collection, sampling methods, and assessment questions and analysis for each surveillance system. Strengths and limitations of each surveillance system are discussed.
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