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Background Cycling and walking to work is a natural way of increasing physical activity in a working population. However, the evidence on the effectiveness and cost savings of promoting active work commuting (ACW) is thin. This cluster-randomized, controlled study aims to promote ACW with environmental, social and behavioral strategies in two large workplace areas in Tampere, Finland. The paper de-scribes the protocol, evaluation and baseline findings of the study. Methods The enrollment of the workplaces took place in 2014-15. In Phase 1, the impacts of environmental strategies (improvements to the walking and cycling trails) were evaluated in Area1 including 11 workplaces. In Phase 2, five more workplaces were recruited from Area2 to evaluate the impacts of social and behavioral strategies accustomed for each workplace. The workplaces in both areas were then randomized into experimental (EXP, n=6+2) and comparison group (COM, n=5+3). EXP promoted ACW with social and behavioral strategies; COM participated in data collection only but will have the same support post-intervention. The primary outcome is the change in employees' self-reported and accelerometer-based ACW. The secondary outcomes include e.g. the changes in employees' self-rated health and subjective wellbeing at work, the change in the number of walkers and cyclists based on the traffic calculations and the change in the quality of walking and cycling trails based on camera auditing (Area1 only). External validity of the intervention is as-sessed with the compliance rates of the workplaces and employees as well as with the fidelity of the environmental, social and behavioral strategies. Health Economic Assessment Tool for Cycling and Walking (HEAT) is used to assess the cost savings of the multilevel intervention. In addition, environmental variables and types that promote ACW and mediate and moderate the effects of environmental strategies are examined. Results and discussion This study is one of the first in Finland to combine interdisciplinary collaboration between practi-tioners and researchers working in the fields of transportation, urban design, physical activity and sustainable development to promote ACW. The findings benefit all stakeholders interested in pro-moting ACW in urban context. The study will also produce supportive material for promoting ACW at the workplaces.