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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2453-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
CB, AdN, TG, LIP and MJN wrote the original grant proposal on which the study design and paper is based. TG, RG and ED led on the development of the conceptual framework, survey design and questionnaire contents for the longitudinal survey. Technical implementation was led by AS. Add-on experiments on air pollution, route tracking and accident location audits are coordinated by respectively LIP, MJN and TG. ED drafted this version of the paper and received input from all the authors. All authors read and commented on the paper and agree with the final version.
Physical inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for non-communicable diseases, yet many are not sufficiently active. The Physical Activity through Sustainable Transport Approaches (PASTA) study aims to better understand active mobility (walking and cycling for transport solely or in combination with public transport) as an innovative approach to integrate physical activity into individuals’ everyday lives. The PASTA study will collect data of multiple cities in a longitudinal cohort design to study correlates of active mobility, its effect on overall physical activity, crash risk and exposure to traffic-related air pollution.
A set of online questionnaires incorporating gold standard approaches from the physical activity and transport fields have been developed, piloted and are now being deployed in a longitudinal study in seven European cities (Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Oerebro, Rome, Vienna, Zurich). In total, 14000 adults are being recruited (2000 in each city). A first questionnaire collects baseline information; follow-up questionnaires sent every 13 days collect prospective data on travel behaviour, levels of physical activity and traffic safety incidents. Self-reported data will be validated with objective data in subsamples using conventional and novel methods. Accelerometers, GPS and tracking apps record routes and activity. Air pollution and physical activity are measured to study their combined effects on health biomarkers. Exposure-adjusted crash risks will be calculated for active modes, and crash location audits are performed to study the role of the built environment. Ethics committees in all seven cities have given independent approval for the study.
The PASTA study collects a wealth of subjective and objective data on active mobility and physical activity. This will allow the investigation of numerous correlates of active mobility and physical activity using a data set that advances previous efforts in its richness, geographical coverage and comprehensiveness. Results will inform new health impact assessment models and support efforts to promote and facilitate active mobility in cities.