Active travel

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Learn more about the measures of active travel across selected CLOSER studies

For background detail on this domain of physical activity, click here.

Active travel was measured many times across the longitudinal studies from ages 4y to 60-64y, with data collected in ALPAC, MCS, BCS70, NCDS, and NSHD (see the tables in the page below). Largely, there were three different themes of active travel including (1) travel to school/ childcare/ and college, (2) travel to work, and (3) general and/or other nonspecific travel. Typically, active travel responses were either in walking or cycling, but in one case (ALSPAC age 13y) responses of skateboarding and scooter were also provided.

Click to see the cross-study data availability and comparability for each active travel subdomain:


Travel to school

ALSPAC 6y, 8y, 13y, 16y and MCS 5y, 7y, and 14y ask identical questions on travel to school (“how does [cohort member] get to school and back”), and the method of active travel (walking or cycling) can be compared across all measures. Additionally, responses in duration (minutes) can be compared in MCS 14y and ALSPAC 13y and 16y. These may therefore be comparable in terms of absolute physical activity levels.

BCS70 16y asks specifically about cycling (“use of bicycle in last 2 weeks: a) to go to school”) and may be compared to ALSPAC 13y, 16y and MCS 14y questions on use of cycling.

AgeStudyVariable name(s)Question wordingResponse scale(s)Included activitiesTimespan of recall
4ALSPACkk435 kk436 kk445 kk446"How does CM get to school/childcare and back"every day/ some dayscycling & walkingnot specified
5ALSPACkm4190 km4200 km4195 km4205 km4210 km4211"How does CM get to school /childcare and back"minutes, kilometres;

every day/ some days
cycling & walkingnot specified
5MCScmtrsc cmtrho cmtrdi"How does CM get to school and back"cycling & walkingnot specified
6ALSPACkp1080 kp1090 kp1085 kp1095 kp1100 kp1101"How does CM get to school and back"minutes, kilometres;

every day/ some days
cycling & walkingnot specified
7MCSdmtrsc dmtrho dmtrdi"How does CM get to school and back"cycling & walkingnot specified
8ALSPACkt1010 kt1020 kt1015 kt1025 kt1030 kt1031"How does CM get to school and back"minutes, kilometres;

every day/ some days
cycling & walkingnot specified
13ALSPACccp210 ccp211 ccp215 ccp217"How does CM get to school and back"minutescycling & walking & skateboard/scooternot specified
14MCSFPTRSC00 FPTRHO00 TRDI FPTRDI00"How does CM get to school and back"minutescycling & walkingnot specified
16ALSPACccs7000 - ccs7045"How did you get to school/college today"minutescycling & walkingtoday/ last time journey was made
16BCS70f9a1 - f9a6"Use of bicycle in last 2 weeks: a)to go to school…"yes/nocyclingpast 2 weeks
17MCSGCTRSC00"Thinking about getting to the place you study or work. How do you usually travel?
Please tell us which method you use for the longest part of your usual journey"
public transport, bus, car, bicycle, walkingnot specified

Note. For the named items in the table above, links are provided (where applicable) to their corresponding content on CLOSER Discovery. Where a variable range is provided, full variable lists can be accessed through the ‘Variable Groups’ tab on the linked Discovery page.


Active travel to work

NSHD 36y and NCDS 44y ask similar questions on travel to work (NSHD: a) “Do you normally use a bike on your way to work, or for part of the way?” b) “On your way to work do you normally walk for five minutes of more on each journey?”; NCDS: “How do you usually travel to work?”), and activity engaged in (cycling or walking) is comparable across measures.

NSHD 36y and NCDS 44y both measure duration, although response options are in different units (NSHD: minutes; NCDS: miles). However these could potentially be converted (e.g. using the average minutes per mile) to derive a common measure of duration.

AgeStudyVariable name(s)Question wordingResponse scale(s)Included activitiesTimespan of recall
17MCSGCTRSC00"Thinking about getting to the place you study or work. How do you usually travel?
Please tell us which method you use for the longest part of your usual journey"
Choose onepublic transport, bus, car, bicycle, walkingnot specified
19MCSCW1_Timeuse1_12_1"How many hours have you been spending doing each of the following activities on a typical weekday since the Coronavirus outbreak began?"hours rounded to nearest hourtravelling for worktypical weekday during the time specified in question
19MCSCW2_Timeuse_12"How many hours have you been spending doing each of the following activities on a typical weekday in the last two weeks?"hours rounded to nearest hour or half hourtravelling for workpast 2 weeks
36NSHDBIKE82 BIKED82 BIKEL82"Do you normally use a bike on your way to work, or for part of the way?"minutes;

days/week
cyclingnot specified
36NSHDWALKW82 WALKWT82"On your way to work do you normally walk for five minutes or more on each journey?"minuteswalkingnot specified
44NCDSwkbike wkwalk wkmiles wktrips"How do you usually travel to work?milescycling & walkingnot specified
46BCS70B10Q24C
B10Q24D
"How often do you use each of the following methods of transport to travel to your job?"Always, usually, occasionally, neverBicycle, walkingnot specified
46BCS70B10Q23"How many times a week do you travel from your home to your job?"Daysnot specified
46BCS70B10Q22"Roughly how many miles is it from home to your job"milesnot specified
50BCS70CW1_Timeuse1_12_1"How many hours have you been spending doing each of the following activities on a typical weekday since the Coronavirus outbreak began?"hours rounded to nearest hourtravelling for worktypical weekday during the time specified in question
50BCS70CW2_Timeuse_12"How many hours have you been spending doing each of the following activities on a typical weekday in the last two weeks?"hours rounded to nearest hour or half hourtravelling for workpast 2 weeks
62NCDSCW1_Timeuse1_12_1"How many hours have you been spending doing each of the following activities on a typical weekday since the Coronavirus outbreak began?"hours rounded to nearest hourtravelling for worktypical weekday during the time specified in question
62NCDSCW2_Timeuse_12"How many hours have you been spending doing each of the following activities on a typical weekday in the last two weeks?"hours rounded to nearest hour or half hourtravelling for workpast 2 weeks
74NSHDCW1_Timeuse1_12_1"How many hours have you been spending doing each of the following activities on a typical weekday since the Coronavirus outbreak began?"hours rounded to nearest hourtravelling for worktypical weekday during the time specified in question
74NSHDCW2_Timeuse_12"How many hours have you been spending doing each of the following activities on a typical weekday in the last two weeks?"hours rounded to nearest hour or half hourtravelling for workpast 2 weeks

Note. For the named items in the table above, links are provided (where applicable) to their corresponding content on CLOSER Discovery.


General active travel

While there appear to be no measures at similar ages, ALSPAC 22y, BCS70 34y, and NCDS 46y ask similar questions on general travel (i.e. ALSPAC: “Do you make regular journeys every day or most days”; BCS70/NCDS: “what is your main form of transport”), with comparable activities (cycling or walking) across each measure.

AgeStudyVariable name(s)Question wordingResponse scale(s)Included activitiesTimespan of recall
17MCSGCCYCF00"How often do you use a bicycle?"Every day or almost every day, several times a week, once or twice a week, at least once a month, at least once a year, less often or never, do not useBicyclenot specified
22ALSPACYPB2000 YPB2010 YPB2020"Do you make regular journeys every day or most days: walkinghours/weekwalkingaverage week
22ALSPACYPB2000 YPB2030"Do you make regular journeys every day or most days: cycling"hours/weekcyclingaverage week
26ALSPACYPF3010"Do you make regular journeys every day or most days that are either walking or cycling?"Neither, walk, cycle, bothwalking, cyclingaverage week
26ALSPACYPF3020"If you walk regularly, how much time do you spend walking on average?"Hours per weekwalkingaverage week
26ALSPACYPF3040"If you cycle regularly, how much time do you spend cycling in an average week?"Hours per weekcyclingaverage week
34BCS70b7tranrt"What is your main form of transport"cycling & walkingnot specified
44NCDSbiketot bikeless bikeone biketwo bikethre bikefive bikemore"Apart from journeys to work, number of journeys do you make in an average week: by bicycle"miles;

journeys/week
cyclingaverage week
44NCDSwalktot walkless walkone walktwo walkthre walkfive walkmore"Apart from journeys to work, number of journeys do you make in an average week: walking"mileswalkingaverage week
46NCDSn7tranrt"What is your main form of transport"cycling & walkingnot specified

Note. For the named items in the table above, links are provided (where applicable) to their corresponding content on CLOSER Discovery.


Explore the other domains of physical activity & the comparability of measurements across studies:

Learn more about the studies covered by this guide and their measurement of physical activity:

Further information:


This page is part of the CLOSER resource: ‘Physical activity across age and study: a guide to data in six CLOSER studies’.