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Municipal investment in off-road trails and changes in bicycle commuting in Minneapolis, Minnesota over 10 years: a longitudinal repeated cross-sectional study.

  • Author(s): Hirsch, Jana A;
  • Meyer, Katie A;
  • Peterson, Marc;
  • Zhang, Le;
  • Rodriguez, Daniel A;
  • Gordon-Larsen, Penny
  • et al.


We studied the effect of key development and expansion of an off-road multipurpose trail system in Minneapolis, Minnesota between 2000 and 2007 to understand whether infrastructure investments are associated with increases in commuting by bicycle.


We used repeated measures regression on tract-level (N = 116 tracts) data to examine changes in bicycle commuting between 2000 and 2008-2012. We investigated: 1) trail proximity measured as distance from the trail system and 2) trail potential use measured as the proportion of commuting trips to destinations that might traverse the trail system. All analyses (performed 2015-2016) adjusted for tract-level sociodemographic covariates and contemporaneous cycling infrastructure changes (e.g., bicycle lanes).


Tracts that were both closer to the new trail system and had a higher proportion of trips to destinations across the trail system experienced greater 10-year increases in commuting by bicycle.


Proximity to off-road infrastructure and travel patterns are relevant to increased bicycle commuting, an important contributor to overall physical activity. Municipal investment in bicycle facilities, especially off-road trails that connect a city's population and its employment centers, is likely to lead to increases in commuting by bicycle.

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