CDC Report: Active Transportation Surveillance — United States, 1999–2012

September 30, 2015

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

In the United States, active transportation prevalence is assessed in various ways by five national surveillance systems. However, this report is the first to present a comprehensive, multi-year comparison of selected estimates from these systems for 1999–2012.

Levels of active transportation in the United States lag behind those of many other developed nations—a recent review of data on transportation to work from 16 countries revealed a high prevalence of walking or bicycling to work in the Netherlands (37.9%) and France (34.9%), whereas U.S. estimates ranged from 4.0% - 16.7% and varied by assessment method.

These differences are likely multifactorial, but such comparisons suggest that greater participation in active transportation in the United States is possible.


  • Across systems, men often reported more active transportation than women
  • Younger respondents tended to report more active transportation than older respondents

  • Among education groups, the highest prevalence of active transportation was usually in the least or most educated groups

  • Active transportation was more prevalent in densely populated, urban areas

In this report, the findings will allow us to better understand the effectsof selecting different active transportation measures and serve as national prevalence estimates for modes of active transportation. In addition, various data points can help city/local officials properly plan active transportation infrastructure to meet any underlying demands.

Lastly, active transportation surveillance data might be used to identify areas where Safe Routes to Schools and Complete Streets programs have had the greatest effect and identify best practices for others to follow.