Safety for Walking and Bicycling

What factors affect safety and help prevent injuries from traffic or violence for children and adults on foot or bicycle

 

Overview:

Research reports safety as a commonly identified barrier to walking or bicycling to school. The literature on bicycle and pedestrian safety suggests that as safety increases, so does participation in active travel.

The research in this section identifies patterns of active transportation, injury, environmental attributes associated with pedestrian safety, as well as successful strategies to increase safety implemented by Safe Routes to School projects. Implications of this research suggest infrastructure improvements, traffic education for students, and driver enforcement can provide positive impacts on overall pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Research Highlights:

  • For students living within 1 mile of school, implementation of effective pedestrian interventions can reduce the traffic dangers that prevent children from walking to school (Beck, et al., 2008).
  • Pedestrian injuries represented 8% of the unintentional injury deaths among children 0 to 19 years of age.(Borse, 2008).
  • A motorist is less likely to collide with a person walking and bicycling if more people walk or bicycle. For example, an individual’s risk while walking in a community with twice as much walking will reduce to 66% (Jacobsen, 2003).
  • A study in New York City found a 33 percent decline in overall pedestrian injury among school children (including a 44 percent decline during school travel times) in areas where federally funded Safe Routes to School projects were implemented. In locations without Safe Routes to School interventions, the injury number remained almost unchanged. (DiMaggio, 2013).
  • A follow-up study in New York City examining the benefits of Safe Routes to School projects on injury reduction and the associated cost savings found that the projects were associated with an overall net societal benefit of $230 million over a projected 50-year period. (Muennig, 2014).

See 2011 and Earlier Archived Articles

Academic Research Articles and Findings:

Exposure-Based, ‘Like-for-Like’ Assessment of Road Safety by Travel Mode Using Routine Health Data (2012)

Key takeaway:

  • Including measures of distance and time can improve risk comparisons of travel modes and may show that bicycling is not as hazardous as commonly thought.

Results:

  • For drivers, risk was highest in youth, fell by a factor of 20 for middle-aged adults, and rose dramatically again for those over age 70. There was less variation in risk for walking and bicycling by age, but a general fall in risk after age 20 and gradual increase by age. Comparisons with data from the Netherlands showed similar trends in increasing risk by age.
  • Risk (in fatalities per million hours’ use) were highest for male drivers ages 17-20 (1.3 f/mhu) male bicyclists over age 70 (2.2 f/mhu), and female pedestrians over age 70 (0.95 f/mhu).
  • In this study, males ages 17-20 had five times greater risk per hour while driving than bicycling (1.3 f/mhu for drivers compared to 0.24 f/mhu for bicyclists).
  • Females had lower risks than males across modes at younger ages, but this trend reversed above age 50.
  • In this study, pedestrians had higher fatalities per km traveled than cyclists (45 fatalities per billion km for pedestrians and 34 fatalities per billion km for cyclists).
  • At a fatality rate of 34 per billion km, an individual who cycles 1 hour/day for 40 years would cover 180,000 km with a 1 in 150 chance of fatal injury.

Methods:

  • This study examined hospital admissions and deaths in England from 2007-2009 for pedestrians, cyclists, and car/van drivers by age and sex. This study used distance and time collected through the National Travel Survey (NTS) as measures of exposure to reduce error in comparisons for deaths and injuries by travel mode. Risk was measured as fatalities per million hour use (f/mhu) or per billion km (/Bn km).

Mindell, J.S., Leslie, D., Wardlaw, M. (2012). Exposure-Based, ‘Like-for-Like’ Assessment of Road Safety by Travel Mode Using Routine Health Data. PLoS ONE, 7(12), e50606.

Motor-vehicle collisions involving child pedestrians at intersection and mid-block locations (2015)

Key takeaway:

  • Factors associated with motor-vehicle collisions involving child pedestrians may differ by mid-block or intersection location, which may be an important consideration for safe walks to school.
  • Intersections with yield or stop signs and no intersection controls were associated with lower risk of motor vehicle collisions involving child pedestrians compared with intersections with traffic signals. The researchers speculated that this could be because intersection controls are generally on roads with more traffic, which could contribute to higher risk.
  • A longer road segment for blocks predicted a higher risk of collisions in mid-block crossings.
  • Traffic volume and location in a mixed or non-residential land use were associated with higher risk of collisions.
  • This study used a matched case-control design to analyze associations between the transportation environment and child pedestrian injuries during school hours (between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.) in Ontario, Canada. Cases were mid-block or intersection locations where children ages 5-14 experienced a motor-vehicle collision, and controls were selected as areas with similar geography and sociodemographics without collisions in the same year.

Bennet, S.A. and Yiannaloulias, N. (2015). Motor-vehicle collisions involving child pedestrians at intersection and mid-block locations. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 78, 94-103.

Active transportation and bullying in Canadian schoolchildren: a cross-sectional study (2015)

Key takeaway:

  • Exposure to bullying may be a barrier to biking and walking to school.

Results:

  • In the study population, 68% of students in grades 6-10 identified worrying about being bullied or attacked on the way to school as a barrier to walking or biking. This barrier was more commonly identified among girls (73.5%) and younger students grade 8 or below (74.1%).
  • A lower percentage of students who currently walked or biked to school identified worry about being bullied or attacked as a barrier (68%), while it was more of a barrier for students currently using public transportation (71.0%) or private modes (69.9%).
  • The odds of any type of being a victim of any type of bullying (verbal, relational, physical, cyber) for those walking or biking to school were 1.25 times the odds for those who did not engage in active transportation, and this association remained even after adjustment for confounding variables (factors like age, BMI, gender, neighborhood trust, parental trust, communication and engagement in arguments with parents, and sense of belonging at school).
  • Participation in active transportation and perpetration of bullying were associated but this relationship was not statistically significant.

Methods:

  • This cross-sectional study analyzed reports from the 2009-2010 Canadian Health Behavior in School-Aged Children study for 3,997 students in grades 6-10 who lived close to school and were not eligible to ride school buses. The study examined associations between active transportation and experiences of bullying.
  • Students were identified as perpetrators or victims of bullying if they reported experiencing bullying at least 2-3 times per month. Survey participants also answered whether worrying about being bullied or attached was an impediment to active transportation.

Cosma, I., Kukaswadia, A., Janssen, I., Craig, W., and Pickett, W. (2015). Active transportation and bulling in Canadian schoolchildren: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 15(99). 


Driver Approach Speed and Its Impact on Driver Yielding to Pedestrian Behavior at Unsignalized Crosswalks (2015)

Key takeaway:

  • As driver speed increases, the rate of yielding to pedestrians decreases.
  • The researcher suggests that speed enforcement and design to reduced speeds through skinny lanes or traffic calming devices could improve unsafe crossings.

Results:

  • Drivers are nearly four times more likely to yield for pedestrians on streets with posted speed limits of 20 mph than at 40 mph.
  • The yield rate was 75% at 85thpercentile speed of 20 mph compared to 17% at 37 mph.
    • Pedestrian yield rates were only 9% on the one four-lane road used in the study.

Methods:

  • This experimental study measured the 85th percentile speed at nine locations in Boston and Brookline, MA and conducted 100 tests at each location to check for motorist yielding at this speed.
  • All but one of the roads were two-lane, and most had on-street parking and were in residential areas.

Bertulis, T. and Dulaski, D.M. (2014). Driver Approach Speed and Its Impact on Driver Yielding to Pedestrian Behavior at Unsignalized Crosswalks. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2464. 46-51.

Shared use and safe routes to school: managing the fear of liability (2015)

Key Takeaway:

  • School policy to support shared use and SRTS can promote student safety and reduce school administrators’ liability concerns.

Results:

  • The article authors speculate that fear of liability is a key barrier to school shared use implementation. School administrators may also assume existing drop-off and pick-up are safest or have reduced risk of liability because they are routine.
  • Schools have legal responsibility for a safe recreational environment during school hours; managing risk before and after school on school groups expands this responsibility. Schools are not responsible for students’ off-campus safety, even in transport to school, unless provided by the school itself.
  • The authors identify four strategies for reducing fear of liability:

○       managing risk by providing a reasonably safe environment and adopting straightforward, proactive policies

○       transferring potential liability through shared use agreements with city parks and recreation departments

○       increasing awareness of existing legal protections afforded by state law like recreational user statutes

○       verifying the adequacy of insurance

  • The authors suggest adopting straightforward guidelines for crossing guard programs as a proactive step to minimize liability and increase student safety concerning Safe Routes to School. These included designating where and when crossing guards will work, conducting screening and training, providing appropriate equipment, educating students, parents, and school staff, and preparing contingency plans for crossing guard absences.

Methods:

  • This article is a research opinion/position paper from the 2014 Public Health Law Conference on the Intersection of Law, Policy, and Prevention.
Winig, B. D., Spengler, J. O. and Etow, A. M. (2015), Shared Use and Safe Routes to School: Managing the Fear of Liability. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 43: 36–39. doi: 10.1111/jlme.12212


Making the Case for Designing Active Cities (2015)

Key takeaway:

  • Safe Routes to School initiatives can contribute to creating multi-faceted “activity-friendly” environments that provide a range of societal co-benefits; filling gaps in the evidence of co-benefits will further support the importance of active transportation to school.

Results:

  • Safe Routes to School demonstrated moderate evidence of a positive effect on safety and injury prevention based on the following findings from Dimaggio (2013):
    • The annual rate of pedestrian injury decreased 33% in school-aged children (5- to 19-year-olds) and 14% in other age groups after SRTS infrastructure interventions.
    • The annual rate of school-aged pedestrian injury during school-travel hours decreased 44% from 8.0 to 4.4. injuries per 10,000 population before and after Safe Routes to School infrastructure interventions, but remained unchanged in areas without SRTS interventions.
  • There was insufficient evidence found by this study to connect Safe Routes to School with social benefits or improved environmental sustainability.
  • Pedestrian and bicycle facilities like sidewalks, bike lanes, and bike parking had strong evidence of a positive effect on safety/injury prevention and economic benefits and moderate evidence for social benefits and environmental sustainability.

Methods:

  • This non-systematic review of 418 sources gathered expert recommendations for peer-reviewed and gray literature on the built environment features and outcomes/co-benefits. Using this literature, the researchers created summary scores for the weight of evidence of co-benefits of activity-friendly environments on physical health, mental health, social benefits, safety/injury prevention, environmental sustainability, and economics in five physical activity settings of parks/trails, urban design, transportation, schools, and workplaces/buildings.

Sallis, J.F. & Spoon, C. (2015). Making the Case for Designing Active Cities. [Technical report.] Active Living Research. http://activelivingresearch.org/making-case-designing-active-cities

 

Concurrent peer-reviewed research article:

 

Sallis, JF, et al. (2015). Co-benefits of designing communities for active living: an exploration of literature. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 12:30. DOI 10.1186/s12966-015-0188-2.

Motor Vehicle-Pedestrian Collisions and Walking to School: The Role of the Built Environment (2014)

Key takeaway:

  • Pedestrian collisions are more strongly associated with built environment features than with proportions of children walking.

Results:

  • Higher rates of children walking and biking to school had no significant association with traffic-related injury after adjusting for population density and roadway design variables (multifamily dwelling density, traffic light, traffic calming and one-way street density, school crossing guard presence, and school socioeconomic status).

Methods:

  • This study was based on police-reported pedestrian collision data for children ages 4-12, proportions of children walking to school, and built environment data from 2002-2011 in Toronto, Canada.

Rothman, L., Macarthur, C., To, T., Buliung, R., Howard, A. (2014). Motor Vehicle-Pedestrian Collisions and Walking to School: The Role of the Built Environment. Pediatrics, 133(5), 1-9.

Partnering With Youth to Map Their Neighborhood Environments: A Multilayered GIS Approach (2015) 

Key Takeaway:

  • Community-based participatory research activities that engage youth can help create a place-based understanding of how youths perceive their neighborhood environments and inform interventions for improvements.

Results:

  • Youths in this study identified safety and lack of recreational resources as limitations to physical activity.
  • Youths took an active role in educating parents and community members about the results of the research, and city officials used these results to prioritize areas for improving sidewalk infrastructure.

Methods:

  • This study used a multilayered GIS approach integrating environmental audits conducted by youths with focus groups and sketch mapping in five neighborhoods near an urban trail system in Kentucky.

Topmiller, M., Jacquez, F., Vissman, A.T., Raleigh, K., Miller-Francis, J. (2015). Partnering with Youth to Map Their Neighborhood Environments: A Multilayered GIS Approach. (2015). Family and Community Health, 38 (1), 66-76.

Assessing multimodal school travel safety in North Carolina (2014)

Key takeaway:

  • Biking and pedestrian injuries generate high economic costs.

Results:

  • Passenger vehicles with teen drivers had higher injury and fatality rates for school travel for children ages 5-18 than any other mode.
  • More 90% of injuries and fatalities involved passenger vehicles. Travel by school bus accounted for 6% of injuries and 2% fatalities, and walking and bicycling accounted for less than 2% of annual injuries and 6% of annual fatalities.
    • Walking and bicycling had lower injury rates per trip than passenger vehicles, but injuries to non-motorized travelers were more severe.
    • Bicycling and walking had the highest cost per injury among school travel modes because these modes had a higher proportion of severe injuries.
    • The researchers suggest responding to these statistics with continued funding for Safe Routes to School initiatives like built environment improvements to facilitate safer travel by active modes.

Methods:

  • This study combines crash data on injuries in North Carolina with exposure data from the National Household Travel Survey from 2005-2012. The study estimates economic costs of injuries and fatalities using the value of a statistical life reported by the USDOT.

McDonald, N., McGrane, A.B., Rodgman, E.A., Steiner, R.L., Palmer, W.M., Lytle, B.F. (2014). Assessing multimodal school travel safety in North Carolina. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 74, 126-132.

Illinois Drivers Must Stop for Pedestrian Law: Observational Study of Motorists’ Compliance (2014)

Key Takeaway:

  • Driver compliance with a state law to yield to pedestrians was highest at crosswalks with more safety features.

Results:

  • Only 5% of drivers stopped for motorists at unmarked crosswalks, 18% at traditional crosswalks (two painted stripes defining the crosswalk boundary), and 61% at crosswalks with additional safety features (such as in-road “stop for pedestrian” signs, raised crosswalks, textured or colored sidewalks, or flashing beacons).

Methods:

  • The Active Transportation Alliance published this report of an observational survey of driver behavior 52 marked and unmarked crosswalks in Chicago. Four trials of pedestrian crossing attempts were conducted at each crosswalk site.

We never see children in parks: a qualitative examination of the role of safety concerns on physical activity among children (2014)

Key takeaway:

  • Parental safety concerns and perceptions of crime in recreational areas may limit child physical activity.

Results:

  • There were two large themes drawn from participants in this study: recreational areas are perceived to have criminal activity, and safety concerns are a barrier to physical activity.
  • Within the theme of safety concerns as barriers to physical activity, subthemes included:
    • Parental fear of crime inhibits use of public recreational spaces.
    • Parental perceptions of police as non-responsive and untrustworthy reduces the use of public spaces where children might play.
    • Parents’ safety concerns may result in intense supervision requirements that limit child physical activity.

Methods:

  • This study gathered qualitative data from 6 focus groups with 44 parents of elementary school students in the Mississippi Delta.

Citation: Rader, N.E., Byrd, S.H., Fountain, B.J., Bounds, C.W., Gray, V., Fruge, A.D., We Never See Children in Parks: A Qualitative Examination of the Role of Safety Concerns on Physical Activity among Children. (2014). Journal of Physical Activity and Health. [Epub ahead of print.]

Ten Years Later: Examining The Long-Term Impact Of The California Safe Routes To School Program (2014)

  • Background:  California was the first state to legislate a Safe Routes to School (SR2S) program under Assembly Bill AB 1475 (1999). SR2S funds construction projects that make it safer for children to walk/bicycle to school and encourage a greater number of children to choose these modes of travel for the school commute.
  • Purpose:  The main goal of this project was to assess the long-term impact of program-funded engineering modifications on walking/bicycling levels and on safety. 
  • Methods:  Evaluation of improvements was determined using a targeted method of determining the countermeasures to result in safety and mode shift.
  • Results:  Major results indicate infrastructure improvements resulted in a 75 percent reduction in collisions involving bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages within 250 feet of the improvement. There was also evidence of improvements resulting in increased rates of walking and bicycling to school.
  • Conclusion:  Positive results for safety and mobility, as well as improved data collection for funded programs, should make Safe Routes to School programs competitive among other transportation needs.

Ragland D, Pande, S, Bigham. J, Cooper JF. Ten Years Later: Examining the Long-term Impact of the California Safe Routes to School Program. In: TRB 93rd Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers. Transportation Research Board; 2014. p. 15.

Bicyclist safety performance functions for a U.S. city (2014)

  • Efforts have intensified to apply a more evidence-based approach to traffic safety. One such effort is the Highway Safety Manual, which provides typical safety performance functions (SPFs) for common road types.
  • SPFs model the mathematical relationship between frequency of crashes and the most significant causal factors.
  • Unfortunately, the manual provides no SPFs for bicyclists, despite disproportionately high fatalities among this group.
  • In this paper, a method for creating city-specific, bicycle SPFs is presented and applied to Boulder, Colorado. This is the first time a bicycle SPF has been created for a U.S. city. Such functions provide a basis for both future investigations into safety treatment efficacy and for prioritizing intersections to better allocate scarce funds for bicycle safety improvements.

Key findings: 

  • As expected, the SPFs show that intersections with higher bicyclist traffic and higher motorist traffic have higher motorist-cyclist collisions.
  • The SPFs also demonstrate that intersections with more cyclists have fewer collisions per cyclist, illustrating that cyclists are safer in numbers.
  • Intersections with fewer than 200 entering cyclists have substantially more collisions per cyclist.

Nordback, K., Marshall, W. E., & Janson, B. N. (2014). Bicyclist safety performance functions for a U.S. city. Accid Anal Prev, 65, 114-122. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2013.12.016


“Effects of a cycle training course on children's cycling skills and levels of cycling to school” (2014)

  • The primary aim of the present study was to evaluate the short- and longer-term effects of a cycle training on children's cycling skills. A second aim of the study was to examine the effects of a cycle training, with and without parental involvement, on levels of cycling to school and on parental attitudes towards cycling
  • Three participating schools were randomly assigned to the “intervention” (25 children), the “intervention plus parent” (34 children) or “control” condition (35 children). A cycle training (4 sessions of 45 min.) took place only in the intervention schools. Parents in the “intervention plus parent” condition were asked to assist their child in completing weekly homework tasks. Children's cycling skills were assessed, using a practical cycling test. All participating children also received a short parental questionnaire on cycling behavior and parental attitudes towards cycling. Assessments took place at baseline, within one week after the last session and at 5-months follow-up. Repeated Measure analyses were conducted to evaluate the effects of the cycle training
  • Children's total cycling skill score increased significantly more from pre to post and from pre to 5-months follow-up in the intervention group than in the control group. On walking with the bicycle (F = 1.6), cycling in a straight line (F = 2.6), cycling a slalom (F = 1.9), cycling over obstacles (F = 2.1), cycling on a sloping surface (F = 1.7) and dismounting the bicycle (F = 2.0), the cycle training had no effect. For all other cycling skills, significant improvements were observed on short- and longer-term. No significant intervention effects were found on children's cycling to school levels (F = 1.9) and parental attitudes towards cycling.
  • The cycle training course was effective in improving children's cycling skills and the improvements were maintained five months later. However, the cycle training course was not effective in increasing children's cycling to school levels.

Fabian Ducheyne, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Matthieu Lenoir,  Greet Cardon,. (2014). Effects of a cycle training course on children's cycling skills and levels of cycling to school. Accident  Analysis & Prevention, 4 Feb 2014(4 Feb 2014 (online)). 

“Active Transportation: Do Current Traffic Safety Policies Protect Non-Motorists?” (2014)

  • This study investigated the impact that state traffic safety regulations have on non-motorist fatality rates.
  • Data obtained from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) were analyzed through a pooled time series cross-sectional model using fixed effects regression for all 50 states from 1999 to 2009.
  • Two dependent variables were used in separate models measuring annual state non-motorist fatalities per million population, and the natural log of state non-motorist fatalities. Independent variables measuring traffic policies included state expenditures for highway law enforcement and safety per capita; driver cell phone use regulations; graduated driver license regulations; driver blood alcohol concentration regulations; bike helmet regulations; and seat belt regulations. Other control variables included percent of all vehicle miles driven that are urban and mean per capita alcohol consumption per year
  • Non-motorist traffic safety was positively impacted by state highway law enforcement and safety expenditures per capita, with a decrease in non-motorist fatalities occurring with increased spending. Per capita consumption of alcohol also influenced non-motorist fatalities, with higher non-motorist fatalities occurring with higher per capita consumption of alcohol. Other traffic safety covariates did not appear to have a significant impact on non-motorist fatality rates in the models
  • The research suggests that increased expenditures on state highway and traffic safety and the initiation/expansion of programs targeted at curbing both driver and non-motorist intoxication are a starting point for the implementation of traffic safety policies that reduce risks for non-motorists.

Emily M. Madera, Cathleen D. Zickb. (2014). Active Transportation: Do Current Traffic Safety Policies Protect Non-Motorists? Accident  Analysis & Prevention, 4 Feb 2014. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2014.01.022

Walking and child pedestrian injury: a systematic review of built environment correlates of safe walking

  • BACKGROUND: The child active transportation literature has focused on walking, with little attention to risk associated with increased traffic exposure. This paper reviews the literature related to built environment correlates of walking and pedestrian injury in children together, to broaden the current conceptualization of walkability to include injury prevention.
  • METHODS:
    • Two independent searches were conducted focused on walking in children and child pedestrian injury within nine electronic databases until March, 2012. Studies were included which: 1) were quantitative 2) set in motorized countries 3) were either urban or suburban 4) investigated specific built environment risk factors 5) had outcomes of either walking in children and/or child pedestrian roadway collisions (ages 0-12).
    • Built environment features were categorized according to those related to density, land use diversity or roadway design. Results were cross-tabulated to identify how built environment features associate with walking and injury.
  • RESULTS of 85 Studies: Fifty walking and 35 child pedestrian injury studies were identified.
    • Only traffic calming and presence of playgrounds/recreation areas were consistently associated with more walking and less pedestrian injury.
    • Several built environment features were associated with more walking, but with increased injury.
    • Many features had inconsistent results or had not been investigated for either outcome.
  • CONCLUSIONS: The findings emphasize the importance of incorporating safety into the conversation about creating more walkable cities.

Rothman, L., Buliung, R., Macarthur, C., To, T., & Howard, A. (2013). Walking and child pedestrian injury: a systematic review of built environment correlates of safe walking. Inj Prev. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2012-040701

How to Increase Bicycling for Daily Travel (2013)

  • Bicycling is healthy: it increases physical activity, improves cardiovascular health, and reduces obesity and disease. Bicycling also can be an excellent mode of transportation for people of all ages. In fact, bicycling to school has been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness and overall health among children and adolescents.
  • As with virtually any kind of sport or physical activity, bicycling poses some risk of injury, but recent studies show that the health benefits of bicycling far exceed the health risks. Moreover, as bicycling levels increase, injury rates fall, making bicycling safer and providing even larger net health benefits.
  • Only 1 percent of all daily trips in the United States are made by bicycle, including fewer than 1 percent of trips to school by children younger than age 16. Many more trips could be made by bicycle, as 40 percent of trips made in the United States are shorter than two miles, which is a reasonable bicycling distance for most people.
  • Recognizing this potential, many government agencies and public health organizations have advocated for increasing bicycling as a way to improve people’s health and reduce air pollution, carbon emissions, congestion, noise, traffic dangers, and other harmful effects of car use.
  • But what are the most effective strategies cities can use to increase bicycling? A growing number of studies have assessed the effectiveness of many strategies for increasing levels of bicycling, including on-street bike lanes, off-street bike paths, and other bicycling infrastructure; promotional and educational programs, such as bike-to-work days and bicycle training classes; and policies, including parking restrictions and traffic-calmed neighborhoods.
  • This brief summarizes the available evidence about strategies for increasing bicycling levels and encouraging bicycling as a mode of transportation. It also presents related policy implications.

Dill, J.  Handy, S. Pucher, J. (2013). How to Increase Bicycling for Daily Travel. In D. R. Bassett, D. (Ed.), (pp. 9). San Diego, California: Active Living Research, University of California, San Diego.

Fears of Violence During Morning Travel to School (2013)

  • Children’s safety as they travel to school is a concern nationwide. The authors investigated how safe children felt from the risk of being assaulted during morning travel to school.
  • Children between 10 and 18 years old were recruited in Philadelphia and were interviewed with the aid of geographic information system (GIS) mapping software about a recent trip to school, situational characteristics, and how safe they felt as they travelled based on a 10-point item (1 = very unsafe, 10 = very safe). Ordinal regression was used to estimate the probability of perceiving different levels of safety based on transportation mode, companion type, and neighborhood characteristics.
  • Among 65 randomly selected subjects, routes to school ranged from 7 to 177 minutes (median = 36) and .1-15.1 street miles (median = 1.9), and included between 1-5 transportation modes (median = 2). Among students interviewed, 58.5% felt less than very safe (i.e., <10) at some point while traveling to school and one-third (32.5%) of the total person time was spent feeling less than very safe. Nearly a quarter of students felt a reduction in safety immediately upon exiting their home. The probability of reporting a safety of >8, for example, was .99 while in a car and .94 while on foot but was .86 and .87 when on a public bus or trolley. Probability was .98 while with an adult but was .72 while with another child and .71 when alone. Perceived safety was lower in areas of high crime and high density of off-premise alcohol outlets.
  • Efforts that target situational risk factors are warranted to help children feel safe over their entire travel routes to school.

Douglas J. Wiebe, PhD, Wensheng Guo, PhD, Paul D. Allison, PhD, Elijah Anderson, PhD, Therese S. Richmond, PhD, Charles C. Branas, PhD. (2013). Fears of violence during morning travel to school. Journal of Adolescent Health, April 15, 2013. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.01.023.

"Effectiveness of a Safe Routes to School Program in Preventing School-Aged Pedestrian Injury" (2013)

  • In 2005, the US Congress allocated $612 million for a national Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program to encourage walking and bicycling to schools. The authors analyzed motor vehicle crash data to assess the effectiveness of SRTS interventions in reducing school-aged pedestrian injury in New York City.
  • Using geocoded motor vehicle crash data for 168,806 pedestrian injuries in New York City between 2001 and 2010, annual pedestrian injury rates per 10,000 population were calculated for different age groups and for census tracts with and without SRTS interventions during school-travel hours (defined as 7 AM to 9 AM and 2 PM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday during September through June).
  • During the study period, the annual rate of pedestrian injury decreased 33% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 30 to 36) among school-aged children (5- to 19-year-olds) and 14% (95% CI: 12 to 16) in other age groups. The annual rate of school-aged pedestrian injury during school-travel hours decreased 44% (95% CI: 17 to 65) from 8.0 injuries per 10 000 population in the pre-intervention period (2001–2008) to 4.4 injuries per 10 000 population in the post-intervention period (2009–2010) in census tracts with SRTS interventions. The rate remained virtually unchanged in census tracts without SRTS interventions (0% [95% CI: –8 to 8])
  • Implementation of the SRTS program in New York City has contributed to a marked reduction in pedestrian injury in school-aged children.

Charles DiMaggio, PhD, MPH and Guohua Li, MD, DrPH. (2013). Effectiveness of a Safe Routes to School Program in Preventing School-Aged Pedestrian Injury. Pediatrics, 131(2), 290-296.

“Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists: A Case-Crossover Study” (2012)

  • The authors compared cycling injury risks of 14 route types and other route infrastructure features. They recruited 690 city residents injured while cycling in Toronto or Vancouver, Canada. A case-crossover design compared route infrastructure at each injury site to that of a randomly selected control site from the same trip.
  • Of the fourteen route types, cycle tracks had the lowest risk, about one ninth the risk of the reference: major streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure. Risks on major streets were lower without parked cars and with bike lanes. Local streets also had lower risks. Other infrastructure characteristics were associated with increased risks: streetcar or train tracks, downhill grades, and construction.
  • Of the 690 injured cyclists in the study, 59% were male. The injury trips were mainly on weekdays (77%), less than 5 km long (68%), and for utilitarian purposes (74%). Of the injury events, 72% were collisions (with motor vehicles, route features, people, or animals) and 28% were falls.
  • The authors found that route infrastructure does affect the risk of cycling injuries. The most commonly observed route type was major streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure. It had the highest risk. In comparison, the following route types had lower risks (starting with the safest route type): cycle tracks (also known as “separated” or “protected” bike lanes) alongside major streets (about 1/10 the risk) residential street bike routes (about 1/2 the risk) major streets with bike lanes and no parked cars (about 1/2 the risk) off-street bike paths (about 6/10 the risk) The following infrastructure features had increased risk: streetcar or train tracks (about 3 times higher than no tracks) downhill grades (about 2 times higher than flat routes) construction (about 2 times higher than no construction).
  • The lower risks on quiet streets and with bike-specific infrastructure along busy streets support the route-design approach used in many northern European countries. Transportation infrastructure with lower bicycling injury risks merits public health support to reduce injuries and promote cycling.

Teschke, K., M. A. Harris, et al. (2012). Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists: A Case-Crossover Study. American Journal of Public Health 102(12): 2336-2343.

“Where Do Cyclists Ride? A Route Choice Model Developed with Revealed Preference GPS Data” (2012)

  • To better understand bicyclists’ preferences for facility types, GPS units were used to observe the behavior of 164 cyclists in Portland, Oregon, USA for several days each. Trip purpose and several other trip-level variables recorded by the cyclists, and the resulting trips were coded to a highly detailed bicycle network.
  • The authors used the 1449 non-exercise, utilitarian trips to estimate a bicycle route choice model. The model used a choice set generation algorithm based on multiple permutations of path attributes and was formulated to account for overlapping route alternatives.
  • The findings suggest that cyclists are sensitive to the effects of distance, turn frequency, slope, intersection control (e.g. presence or absence of traffic signals), and traffic volumes. In addition, cyclists appear to place relatively high value on off-street bike paths, enhanced neighborhood bikeways with traffic calming features (aka “bicycle boulevards”), and bridge facilities.
  • Bike lanes more or less exactly offset the negative effects of adjacent traffic, but were no more or less attractive than a basic low traffic volume street. Finally, route preferences differ between commute and other utilitarian trips; cyclists were more sensitive to distance and less sensitive to other infrastructure characteristics for commute trips.

Broach, J., J. Dill, et al. (2012). Where Do Cyclists Ride? A Route Choice Model Developed with Revealed Preference GPS Data. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice 46(10):1730-1740.

“The Roles of Gender, Age and Cognitive Development in Children's Pedestrian Route Selection” (2012)

  • Thousands of American children under the age of 10 years are injured annually as pedestrians. Despite the scope of this public health problem, knowledge about behavioral control and developmental factors involved in the etiology of child pedestrian safety is limited. The present study examined the roles of gender, age and two aspects of cognitive development (visual search and efficiency of processing) in children's safe pedestrian route selection.
  • Measures of cognitive functioning (visual search and efficiency) and selections of risky pedestrian routes were collected from 65 children aged 5–9 years.
  • Boys, younger children and those with less developed cognitive functioning selected riskier pedestrian routes. Cognitive functioning also subsumed age as a predictor of risky route selections.
  • The findings suggest developmental differences, specifically less developed cognitive functioning, play important roles in children's pedestrian decision making.

Barton, BK, Ulrich, T, Lyday, B. (2012). “The roles of gender, age and cognitive development in children's pedestrian route selection.” Child: Care, Health and Development 38(2): 280–286.

“Neighborhood Social Inequalities in Road Traffic Injuries: The Influence of Traffic Volume and Road Design” (2012)

  • Researchers examined the extent to which differential traffic volume and road geometry can explain social inequalities in pedestrian, cyclist, and motor vehicle occupant injuries across wealthy and poor urban areas.
  • They performed a multilevel observational study of all road users injured over 5 years (n = 19 568) at intersections (n = 17 498) in a large urban area (Island of Montreal, Canada). They considered intersection-level (traffic estimates, major roads, number of legs) and area-level (population density, commuting travel modes, household income) characteristics in multilevel Poisson regressions that nested intersections in 506 census tracts.
  • There were significantly more injured pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicle occupants at intersections in the poorest than in the richest areas. Controlling for traffic volume, intersection geometry, and pedestrian and cyclist volumes greatly attenuated the event rate ratios between intersections in the poorest and richest areas for injured pedestrians (−70%), cyclists (−44%), and motor vehicle occupants (−44%).
  • Roadway environment can explain a substantial portion of the excess rate of road traffic injuries in the poorest urban areas.

Morency, P., L. Gauvin, et al. (2012). "Neighborhood Social Inequalities in Road Traffic Injuries: The Influence of Traffic Volume and Road Design." American Journal of Public Health 102(6): 1112-1119.

“Impact of a Pilot Walking School Bus Intervention on Children's Pedestrian Safety Behaviors: A Pilot Study” (2012)

  • Walking school buses (WSB) increase children’s physical activity, but their impact on pedestrian safety behaviors (PSB) is unknown.
  • To fill this knowledge gap, the authors tested the feasibility of a protocol evaluating changes to PSB during a WSB program.
  • Outcomes were school-level street crossing PSB prior to (Time 1) and during weeks 4–5 (Time 2) of the WSB. The protocol collected 1252 observations at Time 1 and 2548 at Time 2.
  • This pilot study demonstrated the feasibility of collecting school-level pedestrian safety behavior outcomes and changes to those outcomes during a WSB program study. Mixed model analyses indicated that intervention schoolchildren had 5-fold higher odds of crossing at the corner/crosswalk but 5-fold lower odds of stopping at the curb.
  • The WSB was associated with more children crossing at an intersection, but fewer children fully stopping at the curb. These mixed results suggest modification to the WSB program may be necessary in order to improve children's pedestrian safety behaviors on the walk to and from school.
  • Further WSB studies, preferably fully powered experimental trials that longitudinally follow participants' pedestrian safety behaviors in the long term, should be conducted in a variety of settings among diverse populations to formally evaluate pedestrian safety and physical activity outcomes. Moreover, studies that examine the influence of the built environment, use objective measures of neighborhood safety, and consider vehicular traffic are also necessary to evaluate their influences on the WSB and children's pedestrian safety.
  • The protocol appears feasible for documenting changes to school-level PSB.

Mendoza, J. A., K. Watson, et al. (2012). "Impact of a pilot walking school bus intervention on children's pedestrian safety behaviors: A pilot study." Health & Place 18(1): 24-30.

“Parental Attitudes towards Children Walking and Bicycling to School: A Multivariate Ordered Response Analysis” (2012)

  • Recent research suggests that, besides traditional socio-demographic and built environment attributes, the attitudes and perceptions of parents towards walking and bicycling play a crucial role in deciding their children’s mode choice to school. However, very little is known about the factors that shape these parental attitudes towards their children actively commuting to school.
  • This study investigated this unexplored avenue of research and identified the influences on parental attitudes towards their children walking and bicycling to school, as part of a larger nationwide effort to make children more physically active and combat rising trends of childhood obesity in the US.
  • Through the use of a multivariate ordered response model (a model structure that allows different attitudes to be correlated), the study analyses five different parental attitudes towards their children walking and bicycling to school, based on data drawn from the California add-on sample of the 2009 National Household Travel Survey. In particular, the subsample from the Los Angeles – Riverside – Orange County area is used in this study to take advantage of a rich set of micro-accessibility measures that are available for this region.
  • The study found that school accessibility, work patterns, current mode use in the household, and socio-demographic characteristics shape parental attitudes towards children walking and bicycling to school. The study findings provide insights on policies, strategies, and campaigns that may help shift parental attitudes to be more favorable towards their children walking and bicycling to school.

Seraj, S., R. Sidharthan, et al. (2012). Parental Attitudes Towards Children Walking and Bicycling to School: A Multivariate Ordered Response Analysis. Paper for the 91st  Annual Meeting of the TRB, Washington, DC, January 2012.

See 2011 and Earlier Archived Articles