Residence in unsafe neighborhoods is associated with active transportation among poor women: Geographic Research on Wellbeing (GROW) Study

Rebecca Lee, Yeonwoo Kim, Catherine Cubbin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This study investigated associations of neighborhood context with active transportation among women with children after controlling for sociodemographic variables. We used data from the Geographic Research on Wellbeing study (GROW). In 2012–2013, GROW surveyed mothers who participated in California's Maternal and Infant Health Assessment. The dependent variable was active vs. inactive transportation. Mothers were coded as doing active transportation if they responded that they “walked,” “walked and took public transportation,” or ‘rode a bike,” to most places they went in the previous 7 days, and were coded as doing inactive transportation if they responded that they “drove” any kind of vehicle or “got rides from someone else.” The independent variables were neighborhood-level (census tract) poverty, income inequality, and perceived neighborhood safety. Using a stratified sample of poor or near-poor (≤200% of the federal poverty level, N = 1231) and non-poor mothers (201+% of the federal poverty level, N = 1465), weighted logistic regression was conducted to estimate associations between neighborhood-level factors with active transportation after controlling for age, race/ethnicity, marital status, number of children, car ownership, education, family income, and population density. One in seven mothers reported active transportation with mothers in poor/near-poor families having a higher proportion of active transportation than mothers in higher income families (24% vs. 3%). In adjusted models, poor/near-poor mothers had twice the odds of using active transportation in very or somewhat unsafe neighborhoods compared with those in very safe neighborhoods. Neighborhood-level poverty and income inequality were not statistically significant. Results suggest that individual poverty is a primary driver of active transportation among mothers. Poor and near-poor mothers who perceived their neighborhoods as unsafe had higher odds of using active transportation. Policy and community resources should be allocated to provide safe routes in very unsafe areas where poor women live and where active transport is most likely to occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-72
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Transport and Health
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Active transportation
  • Exercise
  • Minority health
  • Mothers
  • Poverty
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Transportation
  • Pollution
  • Safety Research
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Residence in unsafe neighborhoods is associated with active transportation among poor women: Geographic Research on Wellbeing (GROW) Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this