Publication Detail

Network Influences on the Development and Implementation of Active Transportation Policies in Six U.S. Cities



Suggested Citation:
Zwald, Marissa, Amy Eyler, Debra Haire-Joshu, Susan L. Handy, Jenine Harris, Sarah Moreland-Russell, Ross C. Brownson (2019) Network Influences on the Development and Implementation of Active Transportation Policies in Six U.S. Cities. Preventive Medicine 118, 176 - 183

Many communities have prioritized policy and built environment changes to promote active transportation (AT). However, limited information exists on the partnerships and processes necessary to develop and implement such policy and environmental changes, particularly among organizations in non-health sectors. Within the transportation sector, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are increasingly recognized as organizations that can support AT policies. This study examined inter-organizational relationships among MPOs and their partners working to advance AT policies in six U.S. cities.

In fall 2015, an average of 22 organizations in each city participated in an online survey about partnerships with MPOs and other organizations developing and implementing AT policies. Measures included organizational characteristics and relational attributes including: level of AT policy collaboration, information transmission, resource sharing, and perceived decisional power. Descriptive network analysis and exponential random graph modeling were used to examine organizational attributes and relational predictors associated with inter-organizational collaboration in each network.

MPOs served as collaborative intermediaries, connecting other organizations around AT policies, in half of the cities examined. Organizations in each city were more likely to collaborate around AT policies when partners communicated at least quarterly. In half of the cities, the probability of AT policy collaboration was higher when two agencies exchanged resources and when organizations had perceived decisional authority.

Network analysis helped identify factors likely to improve partnerships around AT policies. Results may contribute to best practices for collaboration among researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and advocates across diverse sectors seeking to promote population-level physical activity.

Key words: Network analysis, metropolitan planning organizations, active transportation, walking, bicycling, physical activity, collaboration, policy,