University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Biking for Health: Results of a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial Examining the Impact of a Bicycling Intervention on Lower-Income Adults

Rebecca Bernstein, MD; Robert Schneider, PhD; Whitney Welch, PhD; Anne Dressel, PhD; Melissa DeNomie, MS; Jennifer Kusch, PhD; Mirtha Sosa, BA

WMJ. 2019;118(1):154-160

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Introduction: This pilot study tested the efficacy of a bicycling intervention targeting inactive, low-income, overweight adults on reducing perceived barriers to bicycling, increasing physical activity, and improving health.

Methods: A nonblinded 2-site randomized controlled trial was conducted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in summer 2015. Participants included members from 1 largely Latino community and a second primarily African American neighborhood. A certified bicycling instructor led a 12-week bicycling intervention. Outcome measures including biking-related attitudes, self-reported physical activity, fitness as measured by the 6-minute step test, and biometric data were collected at baseline, 12 weeks, and 20 weeks.

Results: Thirty-eight participants completed the study. Barriers to bicycling declined significantly among intervention group participants at 12 weeks with some declines persisting to 20 weeks. Bicycling for leisure or non work transportation increased significantly more in the intervention than control group from baseline to 12 weeks but this difference attenuated by 20 weeks. Both groups increased their fitness between baseline and 12 weeks, with a trend towards greater gains in the bicycling intervention group. No significant change in biometric measurements was seen at either 12 weeks or 20 weeks.

Conclusion: Despite the small study size, this bicycling intervention decreased perceived barriers to bicycling and increased bicycling activity in low-income minority participants. These findings support a larger-scale study to measure fitness and health changes from bicycling interventions.

Author Affiliations: Department of Family and Community Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wis (Bernstein, DeNomie); Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin UW-Milwaukee (Welch); Department of Urban Planning, UW-Milwaukee (Schneider); College of Nursing, UW-Milwaukee (Dressel); College of Health Sciences, Milwaukee Area Technical College (Kusch); Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wis (Sosa).
Corresponding Author: Rebecca Bernstein, MD, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 W Watertown Plank Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226; phone 414.955.8825; fax 414.955.6523; e-mail
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Madeleine Organ for her assistance with project planning and data collection.
Funding/Support: Support was received from the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program of the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (grant 8UL1TR000055), the Clinical & Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin through the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin endowment. Whitney Welch was supported by NIH/NCI training grant CA193193; Jennifer Kusch was supported by HRSA training grant T32 HP10030.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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