The EU-funded project PASTA - Physical Activity Through Sustainable Transport Approaches - project aims to connect transport and health research and practice by promoting active mobility in cities (i.e. walking and cycling, including in combination with public transport use) as an innovative way of integrating physical activity into our everyday lives. PASTA takes a broad approach in investigating how active travel (AT) contributes to physical activity (PA). It brings together perspectives from transport planning, travel behaviour and health research as well as policy and practice. Within the project a cohort study across seven European cities is investigating the key determinants of AT behaviour how AT relates to PA effectiveness of measures to promote AT. A main aim of this empirical study is to contribute to the improvement of health impact assessment (HIA) model of AT.

Integrated framework

A comprehensive conceptual framework was developed building on previously published frameworks and underlying theories. The framework ingrates aspects relevant to both AT and PA behaviour, distinguishes data hierarchies and guides PASTA survey contents, data collection and analysis.

PASTA Overview

Data collection

The core study is designed as a longitudinal web-based survey which consists of a substantial baseline questionnaire (30min) and bi-weekly short follow-ups (5min). Every 3rd FU-Q is somewhat longer (10min). Baseline and long FUQ assess travel and PA behavior through a 1-day travel diary and an adapted version of the global physical activity questionnaire (GPAQ). The sample is split between the general population and a subsample exposed to one top measure per city selected to be evaluated in a before/after analysis. Participant recruitment is largely opportunistic. A recruitment monitoring dashboard is used to track progress and target recruitment to reach a balanced sample. The goal is to recruit at least 2000 participants in each of the seven cities (by June 2015 we had recruited 5000 in total). Subsamples are invited to participate in add-on modules using objective measurements of trips, activity and air pollution.


Health Impact Assessment Model

The PASTA HIA model for AT builds on previously published models as well as on insights from the PASTA survey. Previously published HIM have been reviewed systematically (Mueller N. et al., 2015, in Preventative Medicine). The survey will provide insights in AT/PA substitution, produce exposure adjusted crash rates for minor crashes and provide evidence for carbon emissions valuation for AT schemes. Selected elements of the PASTA HIA model will be fed into the further development of WHO's Health Economic Assessment Tools for walking and cycling (HEAT).


Major outputs and more information on the project can be accessed via the PASTA project website.

Further Information

For more information on this research project please contact Dr Christian Brand.