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- Rates of walking and bicycling to school have declined sharply in recent decades, and federal and state governments have committed funds to reverse these trends. To increase rates of walking and biking to school will require understanding why many parents choose to drive their children to school and how well existing programs, like Safe Routes to School, work.
- The study aimed to understand why many parents choose to drive their children even short distances to school, and what implications this has for programs to increase walking and biking to school.
- The authors used data from a telephone survey to explore why parents drive their children to school.
- The study found that 75% of parents driving their children less than 2 miles to school said they did this for convenience and to save time. Nearly half of parents driving their children less than 2 miles did not allow their child to walk to school without adult supervision. Accompanying a child on a walk to school greatly increases the time the household devotes to such a trip. Few Safe Routes to School programs effectively address issues of parental convenience and time constraints.
- Safe Routes to School programs should take parental convenience and time constraints into account by providing ways children can walk to school supervised by someone other than the parent, such as by using walking school buses. To be effective, such programs need institutional support. Schools should take a multimodal approach to pupil transportation.
McDonald, N.C. & Aalborg, A.E. (2009). Why Parents Drive Children to School: Implications for Safe Routes to School Programs. Journal of the American Planning Association 75(3), 331-342.
- Active Living by Design focused on two communities in Portland, Oregon: one urban, low-income community with poor bicycle/pedestrian and park infrastructure, the other a semirural community expected to see urban growth in the next 30 years.
- The goals of Active Living by Design included:
- prepare and sustain a network of public health, planning, community and policymaking partner
- affect urban planning and policy decisions to influence built-environment changes
- support active-living program and promotion partners
- This project proved the community-action model to be a valuable tool for organizing intervention activities and bringing diverse partners together.
- Reviewers conclude that many of the partnerships’ collaborative efforts to encourage healthy communities through policy, environmental, and social change have been largely successful and can serve as a model for other communities.
Dobson, NG and Gilroy, AR. “From Partnerships to Policy: The Evolution of Active Living by Design in Portland, Oregon.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 37.6.2 (2009): S436-S444.
- The aim of this study is to quantify the effect of the introduction of 20 mph (32 km an hour) traffic speed zones on road collisions, injuries, and fatalities in London.
- This observational study is based on analysis of geographically coded police data on road casualties, 1986-2006. Analyses were made of longitudinal changes in counts of road injuries within each of 119 029 road segments with at least one casualty with conditional fixed effects Poisson models. Estimates of the effect of introducing 20 mph zones on casualties within those zones and in adjacent areas were adjusted for the underlying downward trend in traffic casualties.
- The main outcome measures were all the casualties from road collisions; those killed and seriously injured (KSI).
- The introduction of 20 mph zones was associated with a 41.9% (95% confidence interval 36.0% to 47.8%) reduction in road casualties, after adjustment for underlying time trends. The percentage reduction was greatest in younger children and greater for the category of killed or seriously injured casualties than for minor injuries. There was no evidence of casualty migration to areas adjacent to 20 mph zones, where casualties also fell slightly by an average of 8.0% (4.4% to 11.5%).
- 20 mph zones are effective measures for reducing road injuries and deaths.
Grundy, C., R. Steinbach, et al. (2009). "Effect of 20 mph traffic speed zones on road injuries in London, 1986-2006: controlled interrupted time series analysis." BMJ 339.
- The socioecological model (SEM) is widely used in public health and includes five levels of influence on behavior, from individual to public policy.
- Application of the SEM to SRTS provides a framework for a comprehensive approach to improve active travel to school.
- To increase active transportation, such as bicycling to school, individual factors might include bicycle ownership, personal history of bicycling, and current attitude about bicycling
- Interpersonal factors might include travel needs of others in the household and having a family member, neighbor, or friend to bike with
- Organizational factors might include availability, condition, and placement of a bicycle rack at school; community factors might include social norms and environmental conditions such as availability of a bike path
- Public policy factors might include school-level or municipality-level policy related to bicycling
- The model is a nice fit with SRTS as it can be viewed as a school-level program or a community-level program that aims to influence the behavior of students and their parents and other school community residents
Martin, Sarah Levin, Moeti, Refilwe, and Pullen-Seufer, Nancy. “Implementing Safe Routes to School: Application for the Socioecological Model and Issues to Consider.” Health Promotion Practice. 10.4 (2009): 606-614.
- Active Living by Design’s Get Active Orlando partnership focused on incorporating activity living considerations into Orlando’s downtown, home to many low-income and ethnically diverse resident and seniors.
- A baseline survey of all streets, sidewalks, and bicycle lanes was completed and a sequence of plans and policies to create changes were identified.
- Immediate changes include the initiation of a senior walking program, bicycle refurbishments and giveaway program, and community bicycle-riding events, and a social marketing campaign that emphasized simple lifestyle changes.
- Get Active Orlando influenced adoption of public policies supporting active living in Orlando, including the Downtown Transportation Plan, Streetscape Guidelines, Design Standards Review Checklist, and growth management policies.
- The city established a Mayor’s Advisory Council on Active Living, a testament to the heightened significance of active living in Orlando.
- Creating connections across disciplines including land-use planning, transportation, public health, and economic development allowed Get Active Orlando to secure substantial policy change to influence design of the built environment.
- Engaging community members, including youth, as leaders was an important factor in program success.
McCreedy, M and Leslie, JG. “Get Active Orlando: Changing the Built Environment to Increase Physical Activity.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 37.6.2 (2009): S395-S402.
- This article reviews the Partnership for Active Communities efforts to bring together multidisciplinary organizations to create a 5-year project to support increased walking and bicycling in the Sacramento, CA area.
- Using a community action model, the partnership focused on programs and promotions to expand walk- and bike-to-school programs.
- A comprehensive communications plan united diverse partnership interests to advocate for Complete Streets policy change and improve transportation infrastructure.
- As a result of the program, Walk- and bike-to-school programs grew, and community-design workshops helped leverage more than $12 million in additional support, including Safe Routes to School grants.
- Complete Streets is now included as a policy in the region’s transportation plan, in the mobility element of the city’s updated general plan and the county’s draft circulation plan, and in the regional transit master plan.
Geraghty, Anne. B., Seifert, Walt, Holm, Christopher, V., Duarte, Teri H., and Farrar, Steve M. “Partnership Move Community Toward Complete Streets.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 37.6.2 (2009): S420-S427.
- Jackson, Michigan (population 36,000) started active living interventions to help solve residents’ low physical activity levels.
- In 2003, Jackson began a 3-prong community intervention utilizing the 5P model to increase safe physical activity opportunities and encourage walking and biking for short trips by focusing work on projects at 1) elementary schools, 2) worksites, and 3) city-wide networks.
- Evaluation results show changes in attitudes toward active transportation (8% increase in children who thought walking to school was "safer" postintervention), intentions to try active transportation (43% of Smart Commute Day participants "would" smart commute more often postevent), and increased physical activity (the percentage of students walking to school more than doubled at 3 of 4 intervention schools).
- In addition, a community level observational study was conducted at 10 locations in the city in 2005 and 2006. The number of people seen using active transportation increased from 1,028 in 2005 to 1,853 people in 2006 (a 63% increase).
- Local community-driven projects to increase walking and biking can be effective by utilizing a variety of interventions, from the individual to the policy level.
Hendricks, K., Wilkerson, R., Vogt, C., and TenBrink, S. “Transforming a small Midwestern city for physical activity: from the sidewalks up.” Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 6.6. (2009): 690-698.
- This brief summary of evidence of benefits from being physically active reveals that national surveillance data indicate a substantial portion of youth and adults in the United States do not meet recommendations.
- Available data indicate that various race and ethnic minorities, persons of very low income and those with mental or physical disabilities have even more to gain from increases in physical activity as they are among the least active in the population, but have limited access to needed resources.
- To realize the health-promoting benefits of increased activity by at-risk populations, major policies and programs need implementing that ensure:
- the population at-large is educated about the health risks of inactivity and how best to reduce these risks,
- lifestyle changes, including increases in physical activity, for chronic disease prevention and health promotion be given higher priority and increased funding by the US health care system,
- schools at all levels enhance opportunities for students to be appropriately active,
- employers develop ways to engineer physical activity back into the work day of sedentary employees while not decreasing worker productivity, and
- the built environment throughout the community is made activity friendly for a greater portion of the population.
Haskell, William L., Blair, Steven N., and Hill, James O. “Physical Activity: Health outcomes and importance for public health policy.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 49 (2009): 280-282.
- Nearly a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2007 were transportation-related; each gallon of gasoline used in transportation emits 20 lbs of CO2 into our atmosphere.
- About half of all car trips in the UK, the Netherlands, and the US, are less than 5 miles.
- This commentary focuses on communication enhancements, marketing enhancements, and policy enhancements that communities can make with relative ease to promote active transport.
- There is strong evidence that communication, social marketing, and policy all have considerable potential to yield significant health, quality of life, economic and environmental benefits to communities willing to implement them.
Maibach, Edward, Steg, Linda, and Anable, Jillian. “Promoting physical activity and reducing climate change: Opportunities to replace short car trips with active transportation.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 49 (2009): 326-327.
- Physical Activity Across the Curriculum (PAAC) was a three-year cluster randomized controlled trial to promote physical activity and diminish increases in overweight and obesity in elementary school children.
- PAAC promoted 90 minutes/week of moderate to vigorous intensity physically active academic lessons delivered by classroom teachers.
- Results indicated that the PAAC approach may promote daily physical activity and academic achievement in elementary school children.
- 75 minutes of PAAC curriculum activities may attenuate increases in body mass index.
Donnelly, Joseph E., Greene, Jerry L., Gibson, Cheryl A., Smith, Bryan K., Washburn, Richard A., Sullivan, Debra K., DuBose, Katrina, Mayo, Matthew S., Schmelzle, Kristin H., Ryan, Joseph J., Jacobsen, Dennis J. and Williams, Shannon L. “Physical Activity Across the Curriculum (PAAC): A randomized controlled trial to promote physical activity and diminish overweight and obesity in elementary school children.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 49 (2009): 336-341.
- Through the Active Living by Design (ALbD) initiative, the Logan Square neighborhood, mostly Latinos, received an intervention to create opportunities and build partnerships
- Intervention activities took a participatory approach involving a variety of community stakeholders in developing and implementing affordable, accessible, culturally acceptable, and sustainable physical activities for children and their families.
- The intervention addressed three primary goals:
- Enhance school environments and practices to support physical activity before, during, and after the school day
- Encourage individuals and families to enjoy outdoor activities in their own communities
- Create safe, inviting places for activity that connect to surround communities
- A full-time coordinator with strong community ties, time to build healthy relationships within the partnership and community, the use of culturally relevant strategies, and flexibility to welcome complementary opportunities all led to the success of the intervention.
- The authors conclude that grassroots engagement is key to preventive health.
Gomez-Feliciano, Lucy, McCreary, Linda L., Sadowsky, Rob, Peterson, Serena, Hernandez, Adolfo, McElmurry, Beverly J., and Park, Chang Gi. “Active Living Logan Square: Joining Together to Create Opportunities for Physical Activity.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 37.6S2 (2009): 361-367.
- Active living has four domains: transportation, recreation, occupation, and household.
- Active living research incorporates an ecological approach to promoting physical activity by recognizing that individual behavior, social environments, physical environments, and policies contribute to behavior change.
- This study tests and refines a conceptual model between the individual and the environment in rural communities.
- Findings reveal a host of “predisposing” and “enabling” factors, including sociodemographic, environmental, policy, and programmatic elements that extend across the fours domains of active living.
- Researchers suggest that efforts to combat childhood obesity must consider rural residents a priority population because of the unique challenges that rural communities face.
Yousefian, A, Ziller, E, Swartz, J, and Hartley, D. “Active living for rural youth: addressing physical inactivity in rural communities.” Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. 15.3 (2009): 223-231.
- This study evaluates the impact of a walking school bus on student transport in a low-income, urban neighborhood.
- The intervention consisted of a part-time walking school bus coordinator and parent volunteers.
- At intervention schools, three walking school buses were developed and maintained with an individual route to school (distances ranged from 0.3 to 1.5 miles long) and took 15-40 minutes from start to finish.
- After 12-months of the intervention, the number of students who walked to the intervention school increased from 20% to 25%.
- The number of students who walked to control schools decreased.
Mendoza, Jason A., Levinger, David D., and Johnston, Brian D. “Pilot evaluation of a walking school bus program in a low-income, urban community.” BMC Public Health. 9 (2009): 122-137.
- This brief summarizes research on active transport to school, physical activity levels and health outcomes.
- It also explores the factors that influence walking and biking to school, including the impact of SRTS programs.
McMillan, TE. “Research Brief: Walking and Biking to School, Physical Activity and Health Outcomes.” Active Living Research. (2009): available at http://www.activelivingresearch.org/files/ALR_Brief_ActiveTransport.pdf
- This research brief presents an overview of findings demonstrating the potential impact of infrastructure investments and other transportation programs on walking and bicycling for transportation, and on related health outcomes.
- It also focuses on public transit, greenways and trails, school-related infrastructure and programs, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and efforts to manage car traffic.
Rodriquez, DA. “Research Brief: Active Transportation, Making the link from Transportation to Physical Activity and Obesity.” Active Living Research. (2009): available at http://www.activelivingresearch.org/files/ALR_Brief_ActiveTransportation.pdf
- This commentary demonstrates the growing interest of state legislatures in adopting policies that promote physical activity in schools and communities.
- School physical activity legislation and built environment legislation are just two examples of how the legislative process can drive the promotion of physical activity.
- The author suggests that it is critical for research to be communicated to policy makers so that legislation can be drafted appropriately.
Morandi, Larry. “The role of state policy in promoting physical activity.” Preventive Medicine. 49.4 (2009): 299-300.
- Although health departments do not have the resources to independently address physical inactivity, the authors of this article suggest that health departments could be catalysts for institutional and community-based changes to promote physical activity.
- For children, public health departments can promote high-quality physical education in schools and promote social support networks for physical activity, such as walking clubs and other group activities.
- Health departments must reach out to disadvantaged communities and assist them in pursuing funding opportunities such as Safe Routes to School.
Simon, Paul, Gonzalez, Eloisa, Ginsburg, David, Abrams, Jennifer, and Fielding, Jonathan. “Physical Activity Promotion: A local and state health department perspective.” Preventive Medicine. 49.4 (2009): 297-298.
- This article suggests that public policies, informed by research, that support population-level approaches to increase physical activity, is needed to increase physical activity opportunities to racial/ethnic minority communities.
- The authors suggest that by creating better schools in low income neighborhoods, children would be more likely to live within walking distance to school and choose active transportation to and from school.
- Building infrastructure that includes sidewalks, walking trails, bicycle lanes, and increased availability of reliable public transportation in racial/ethnic minorities is a strategy to support and allow engaging in active forms of transportation and physical activity.
Whitt-Glover, Melicia C., Crespo, Carlos J. and Joe, Jennie. “Recommendations for advancing opportunities to increase physical activity in racial/ethnic minority communities.” Preventive Medicine. 49.4 (2009): 292-293.
- This study investigates the characteristics of student travel behaviors before the implementation of SRTS program and identifies the influential factors affecting the number of children to walk or bike to school.
- Parents reported the following as the five primary factors affecting children’s walking or biking:
- distance (67.0%)
- traffic speed along route (53.7%)
- traffic amount along route (51.3%)
- violence or crime (42.1%)
- intersection safety (38.2%)
- Parents reported the following as the five primary factors that would change their decisions and allow their children to walk or bike to school:
- distance (25.5%)
- safety of intersections and crossings (22.0%)
- weather or climate (21.9%)
- presence of an adult cowalker (17.5%)
- convenience of driving (15.0%)
- Researchers suggest that distance between the rankings reveal a variance between people’s perceptions and reactions.
- Subjective opinions were also considered in this study demonstrating that most students and parents held positive attitudes toward students walking or biking to school:
- Forty percent of students consider walking or biking to school “fun” or “very fun” and less than 10 percent of students consider it “boring or “very boring”
- 57.2 percent of students consider it “healthy” or “very healthy” to walk or bike to school
- 78.8 percent of students have asked for permission to walk or bike to school
- Only 4.1 percent of students believed their schools discourage or strongly discourage students to walk or bike to school
- 32.9 percent of parents will allow their children to walk or bike alone at different grades.
Zhou, Huaguo, Zhao, Jiguang, Hsu, Peter, and Rouse, Jeanette. “Identifying Factors Affecting the Number of Students Walking or Biking to School.” Institute of Transportation Engineers Journal. 79.10 (2009).
- The CDC initiated the Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention Project (the Measures Project) to identify and recommend a set of obesity prevention strategies and corresponding suggested measurements that local governments and communities can use to plan, implement, and monitor initiatives to prevent obesity.
- Strategies 17-23 suggest community improvements that are addressed by Safe Routes to School. These recommendations suggest that communities should:
- enhance infrastructure supporting bicycling
- enhance infrastructure supporting walking
- support locating schools within easy walking distance of residential areas
- improve access to public transportation
- zone for mixed-land use development
- enhance personal safety in areas where persons are or could be physically active
- enhance traffic safety where persons are or could be physically active
Khan, Laura Kettel, Sobush, Kathleen, Keener, Dana, Goodman, Kenneth, Lowry, Amy, Kazietek, Jakub, and Zaro, Susan. “Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States.” Center for Disease Control. (2009): 58(RR07); 1-26.
- A sample of 1,897 elementary school-aged children (3rd-5th graders) throughout Michigan completed the Michigan Safe Routes to School Survey, measuring environmental, access, and attitudinal perceptions toward school routes and transportation methods
- Results indicate that as children get older, the odds of walking to school increase
- If the student perceives walking as a time saver, or safe, the student is more likely to walk
- Distance negatively impacts the odds a child will walk to school, the farther a student lives, the less likely they are to walk
- If the student’s parents have a car or access to a school bus, the student is less likely to walk
- This study identifies an important focus for SRTS programs; to promote walking to school, efforts need to focus on safety as well as convenience
Rodriguez, Ariel and Vogt, Christine A. “Environmental, Access, and Attitude Factors That Influence Walking to School by Elementary School-Aged Children.” Journal of School Health. 79.6 (2009): 255-261.
- Fitness, mathematics, and reading/language data were collected from 134 third-fifth-grade children.
- A negative association was noted between the 1-mile run and mathematics scores
- A positive relationship was observed between muscular fitness and mathematics
- This study supports a link between specific components of physical fitness and academic achievement in elementary school children.
Eveland-Sayers, Brandi M., Farley, Richard S., Fuller, Dana K., Morgan, Don W., and Caputo, Jennifer L. “Physical Fitness and Academic Achievement in Elementary School Children.” Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 66 (2009):99-104
- The purpose of this study is to understand why many parents choose to drive their children to school, even short distances, and identify implications for programs to increase walking and biking to school.
- Results from a telephone survey reveal that 75% of parents drive their children less then 2 miles to school for convenience and to save time.
- Nearly 50% of parents that drive their children less then 2 miles to school do not allow their children to walk without adult supervision.
- Researchers suggest that SRTS programs consider convenience and time constraints by providing ways for children to walk to school supervised with someone other then a parent.
McDonald, Noreen C. and Aalborg, Annette E. “Why Parents Drive Children to School.” Journal of the American Planning Association. 75.3 (2009): 331-342.
- Approximately 900 pediatric pedestrians younger than 19 years are killed each year.
- Each year, 51,000 children are injured as pedestrians.
- This policy statement published by the American Academy of Pediatrics supports community- and school- based strategies that minimize a child’s exposure to traffic, especially high-speed, high-volume traffic.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics makes 10 recommendations to create safe pedestrian environments for children to enable greater amounts of walking and physical activity, including; adult supervision coupled with pedestrian education and environmental modification.
Agran, Phyllis and Weiss, Jeffery C. “Policy Statement – Pedestrian Safety.” American Academy of Pediatrics. 124.2 (2009): 801-813.
- This is a systematic review of 38 articles that investigate the environmental (physical, economic, socio-cultural and political) correlates of active transportation (AT) among young people aged 5-18 years
- Lower rates of active transport were correlated with greater distance, increasing household income and increasing car ownership
- Non-white ethnic background is positively associated with active transport.
- Accessibility to recreational facilities and walk or bike paths are possibly associated with higher rates of active transport
- Researchers highlight the complexity of variables promoting or inhibiting children’s active transport and suggest areas for future research
Pont, Karina, Ziviani, Jenny, Wadley, David, Bennett, Sally and Abbott, Rebecca. “Environmental Correlates of Children’s Active Transportation: A Systematic Literature Review”. Health and Place. 15 (2009) 849-862.
- This study examines 496 parental questionnaires to evaluate the transport practices of school children and perceived factors that influenced parental decisions regarding their child’s use of active transport to commute to school
- Only 1/3 of the children report using active transport to and from school
- Commuting distance is significantly associated with increased odds of active transport
- Other factors that reportedly influence parental decisions regarding their child’s active transport to school are: age, provision of safe walking paths, adult supervision, commuting distance, and child’s fitness level
Yeung, Jennifer, Wearing, Scott, and Hills, Andrew P. “Child Transport Practices and Perceived Barriers in Active Commuting to School”. Transportation Research Part A. 42 (2008) 895-900.
- This cross-sectional research study evaluates how household interactions affect walking and biking to school
- Results indicate that employment status and commute patterns affect non-motorized travel
- Data reveal that students make 11% of school trips by themselves
- Mother’s are most likely to be the child’s travel companion (30%) and are very likely to drive the children to school
- Children (5-14) with mothers who commute to work in the morning are less likely to walk or bike to school
- Implications of these findings suggest that policymakers may want to create programs that allow parents to share chaperoning responsibilities for the school trip
McDonald, Noreen. “Household Interactions and Children’s School Travel: The Effect of Parental Work Patterns on Walking and Biking to School”. Journal of Transport Geography. 16 (2008) 324-331.
- This article discusses how the built environment of a community affects children’s opportunities for physical activity
- Walking to school is identified as the most universal opportunity for incidental physical activity, which are activities for which exercise is not the primary goal
- The TAAG study, as noted in this policy report, provided evidence that every mile that a girl lived farther from school translated to significantly fewer minutes of metabolic activity per week
- The policy report identifies 3 recommendations for pediatricians; ask patients about incidental physical activity opportunities in their community, ask patients to advocate for environmental improvements that will allow their children to walk to school, and advocate for opportunities that will increase physical activity for children
- The policy report identifies 5 recommendations for government; pass and promote laws that promote active living, create and maintain green spaces, promote legislation and fund programs that create active commuting opportunities, fund research on the built environment and physical activity, and serve as a model for the community by siting buildings in locations that promote activity living.
Tester, June M. and the Committee on Environmental Health. “The Built Environment: Designing Communities to Promote Physical Activity in Children.” Pediatrics. 123.6 (2009) 1591-1598.
- This study identifies correlations between walking behaviors to school and relevant policy implications.
- Parents’ and children’s positive attitude, regular walking behavior, and supportive peer influences were positively correlated with walking to school.
- Distance and safety concerns were strongly negatively correlated with walking to school, as well as the presence of highways/freeways, convenience stores, office buildings, and bus stops en route.
- The findings of this study suggest that society should give high priority to lower socioeconomic status populations and to multi-agency policy interventions that facilitate environmental changes, safety improvements, and educational programs targeting both parents and children.
Zhu, Xuemei and Lee, Chanam. “Correlates of Walking to School and Implications for Public Policies: Survey Results from Parents of Elementary School Children in Austin, Texas.” Journal of Public Health Policy. 30 (2000): S177-S202.
- This study examines bicycle- and pedestrian-related investments authorized by federal transportation legislation in 3,140 counties in the United States by region, population size and urbanization, social and economic characteristics, and indicators of travel-related walking and bicycling.
- From 1992 to 2004, states and counties implemented 10,012 bicycle- and pedestrian-related projects representing $3.17 billion in federal expenditures.
- Disparities in implementation and system-building outcomes were identified according to population size and location.
- Counties characterized by persistent poverty and low educational status were less likely to implement projects.
- Improved data tracking, more explicit linkages between transportation projects and public health, and improved planning assistance to underserved communities are the key policy recommendations for improving public health outcomes drawn from this research.
Cradock, Angie L., Troped, Philip J., Fields, Billy, Melly, Steven J., Simms, Shannon V., Gimmler, Franz and Fowler, Marianne. “Factors Associated with Federal Transportation Funding for Local Pedestrian and Bicycle Programming and Facilities.” Journal of Public Health Policy. 30 (2009): S38-S72.
- Consistent with previous research, this study finds distance to school to be the strongest indicator of active commuting.
- This study reports that individuals are more likely to actively commute if they are male, Latino, from lower-income families, attend public school and live in urban areas.
- Parental walking for transportation and perceptions of neighborhood safety were not associated with adolescent active commuting.
Babey, Susan H., Hastert, Theresa A., Huang, Winnie and Brown, Richard E. “Sociodemographic, Family and Environmental Factors Associated with Active Commuting to School among US Adolescents.” Journal of Public Health Policy. 30 (2009): S203-S220.
- This study examines predictors of active commuting to school among children and adolescents’ over a 2-year period.
- Results report that children whose parents know many people in the neighborhood are more likely to increase their active commuting compared with other children.
- Parents of adolescents who perceived there to be insufficient traffic lights and pedestrian crossings in their neighborhood were less likely to increase their active commuting.
- This study implies that social factors as well as physical environmental characteristics are the most important predictors of active commuting among children and adolescents.
Hume, Clare, Timperio, Anna, Salmon, Jo, Carver, Alison, Giles-Cortie, Billie and Crawford, David. “Walking and Cycling to School: Predictors of Increases Among Children and Adolescents.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 36.3 (2009): 195-200.
- This article reviews 13 studies that explore whether children who actively commute to school have increased physical activity levels or a healthier body weight.
- Studies demonstrate that children who actively commute to school accumulate more physical activity then passive commuters.
- Evidence for the impact of active school transport promoting healthy body weights for children and youth requires more attention.
Faulkner,Guy E,J,. Buliung, Ron M., Flora, Parminder K. and Fusco, Caroline. “Active School Transport, Physical Activity Levels and Body Weight of Children and youth: A Systematic Review.” Preventive Medicine. 48 (2009): 3-8.
“Children Living Near Green Spaces Are More Active” (2009)
- In this study of children aged 8-10, for every additional park located within a half-mile of their home, girls are twice as likely to walk to school.
- Boys are 60 percent more likely to walk in leisure time when a park is located within a half-mile of their home.
- This study supports a statement from the American Heart Association made in June of 2008 stating, “walkable” neighborhoods, with adequate sidewalks and areas for physical activity, can play an important role in combating the rise in obesity rates by making it easier to get daily exercise.
Lamber, Marie, Kestens, Yan, Gauvin, Lise, Van Hulst, Andraea and Danie, Mark. “Children Living Near Green Spaces are More Active.” American Heart Association, 2009.
- Rising levels of childhood obesity in the United States and a 75% decline in the proportion of children walking to school in the past 30 years have focused attention on school travel. This paper uses data from the US Department of Transportation’s 2001 National Household Travel Survey to analyze the factors affecting mode choice for elementary and middle school children.
- The analysis shows that walk travel time is the most policy-relevant factor affecting the decision to walk to school. If policymakers want to increase walking rates, these findings suggest that current policies, such as Safe Routes to School, which do not affect the spatial distribution of schools and residences, will not be enough to change travel behavior. The final part of the paper uses the mode choice model to test how a land use strategy-community schools-might affect walking to school.
- The results show that community schools have the potential to increase walking rates but would require large changes from current land use, school, and transportation planning practices.
McDonald, N.C. (2008). Children's Mode Choice for the School Trip: The Role of Distance and School Location in Walking to School. Transportation, 35(1), 23-35.
- Data from the 1969 and 2001 National Household Transportation Survey report that a smaller percentage of students lived within 1 mile of school in 2001 than in 1969.
- The percentage of students who walked or biked any distance decreased from 42.0% to 16.2%.
- Nearly half of students used more than 1 travel mode or went to an additional destination en route between home and school in 2001.
- Implications from this study indicate that a multidisciplinary effort is needed to increase the percentage of students who walk or bike to school, as well as decrease the distances that students travel.
Ham, Sandra A., Martin, Sarah, and Kohl III, Harold W. “Changes in the Percentage of Students Who Walk or Bike to School – United States, 1969 and 2001.” Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 5.2 (2008): 205-215
- This study identifies factors that predict successful enactment of childhood obesity preventions in all 50 states.
- Bipartisan sponsorship, introduction in the state senate, budget proposals, and content areas related to Safe Routes to School, walking/biking trails, model school policies, statewide initiatives, and task forces and studies are bill-level factors associated with increased likelihood of enactment.
- Bill-level factors are found to be more influential in their effect on policy enactment than state-level factors.
Boehmer, Tegan K, Luke, Douglas A, Haire-Joshu, Debra L, Bates, Hannalori S. and Brownson, Ross C. “Preventing Childhood Obesity Through State Policy: Predictors of Bill Enactment.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 34.4 (2008): 333-340.
- This review on predictors and health consequences of active commuting to school evaluates programs specific to children’s walking and bicycling to school, including Safe Routes to School.
- A thorough review of the research demonstrates that children who walk or bicycle to school have higher daily levels of physical activity and better cardiovascular fitness than do children who do not actively commute to school.
- A review of the literature identifies a wide range of predictors of children’s active commuting behaviors, including demographic factors, individual and family factors, school factors (including the immediate area surrounding schools), and social and physical environmental factors.
- Safe Routes to School and the Walking School Bus are two public health efforts that promote walking and bicycling to school.
- Evidence suggests that these activities are viewed positively by key stakeholders and have positive effects on children’s active commuting to school.
Davison, Kirsten K., Werder, Jessica L. and Lawson, Catherine T. “Children’s Active Commuting to School: Current Knowledge and Future Directions.” Preventing Chronic Disease. 5.3 (2008): A100.
- This study identifies policies and factors that influence active transport to and from school (ATS) initiatives.
- Among diverse schools, strategies identified to increase ATS include influence of the built environment, safety concerns, funding and trans-disciplinary collaboration.
- Safe Routes to School is a potential funding opportunity, noting that section 1404 of SAFETEA-LU provides funding (for the first time) for State Departments of Transportation to create and administer Safe Routes to School programs.
Eyler, Amy A., Brownson, Ross C., Doescher, Mark P., Evenson, Kelly R., Fesperman, Carrie E., Litt, Jill S., Pluto, Delores, Steinman, Lesley E., Terpstra, Jennifer L., Troped, Philip J. and Schmid, Thomas L. “Policies Related to Active Transport To and From School: A Multisite Case Study.” Health Education Research. 23.6 (2008): 963-975.
- This study reports that the national Safe Routes to School program has the potential to positively influence individuals, communities, and the environment regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status by providing funds to address some of the barriers and improve the ability of students to safely walk and bicycle to school.
- The socioecological model (SEM) is widely used in public health and includes five levels of influence on behavior, from individual to public policy. Application of SEM to Safe Routes to School provides a framework for a comprehensive approach to improve active travel to school.
Martin, Sarah L., Moeti, Refilwe and Pullen-Seufert, Nancy. “Implementing Safe Routes to School: Application for the Socioecological Model and Issues to Consider.” Health Promotion Practice. (2008).
- This study analyzes rates of walking and biking to school among low-income and minority youth in the United States. Results report:
- Hispanics have the highest rate of active transportation (27.7%) while whites have the lowest (9.4%).
- Families earning less than $20,000 walk more than twice as much as students from households earning more than $60,000.
- High school students have the lowest rates of active transport across all income and racial groups.
- Living within a half-mile of school greatly increases the likelihood of walking or biking to school.
- A significant implication of these findings is that Safe Routes to School programs have the potential to strongly benefit minority and low-income students, especially because many of those students are more likely to live near the school they attend.
McDonald, Noreen C. “Critical Factors for Active Transportation to School Among Low-Income and Minority Students. Evidence from the 2001 National Household Travel Survey.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 34.4 (2008): 341-344.
- This study assesses the cost-effectiveness of population-wide strategies to promote physical activity by using a lifetime cost-effectiveness analysis (dollars per quality-adjusted life year [QALY]).
- All of the evaluated physical activity interventions appear to reduce disease incidence, to be cost-effective, and offer good value for money.
- The results support using any of the seven evaluated interventions as part of public health efforts to promote physical activity.
Roux, Larissa, Pratt, Michael, Tengs, Tammy O. and Yore, Michelle M. “Cost Effectiveness of Community-Based Physical Activity Interventions.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 35.6 (2008): 578-588.
- This study estimates the amount of land area and population in the United States that could be affected by Safe Routes to School programs, examines the types of locations where such improvements are likely to affect the greatest number of people and the improvements it could have on the larger community.
- Communities with limited funds may be able to improve their overall walkability for all citizens by using federal Safe Routes to School funding to improve walking and cycling routes to schools.
Watson, Margaret and Dannenberg, Andrew. “Investment in Safe Routes to School Projects: Public Health Benefits for the Larger Community.” Preventing Chronic Disease. 5.3 (2008).
- The purpose of this report is to evaluate the effectiveness of the SRTS program in reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities involving children in the vicinity of the projects, the impact of the program on levels of walking and bicycling to school, and the safety benefits of the program in comparison with other highway safety programs.
- Evaluation results report an increase in walking and bicycling to and from school from 10%-200% depending on the source of information (direct observation vs. parent estimates).
- California reports an overall decline in the number of child pedestrians/bicyclists injured in Safe Routes to School program areas.
- SRTS projects saw a similar decline in the actual numbers of child pedestrian/bicyclist injuries as the control areas and across California. However, when factoring in the increase in walking and bicycling in the SRTS projects and increased exposure to risk, the SRTS program showed a decreased rate of injuries and a net benefit in terms of safety for affected students. The magnitude of the safety benefit ranged from 0 to 49% depending on the increase in the walking/bicycling rate.
- Cost-benefit comparisons performed by Caltrans resulted in a cost per collision reduction ranging between $40,397 and $282,779.
- Improvements in traffic congestion and air quality near school are also considered beneficial but difficult to include in a cost-benefit evaluation.
Orenstein, Marla R., Gutierrez, Nicole, Rice, Thomas M., Cooper, Jill F. and Ragland, David R. "Safe Routes to School Safety and Mobility Analysis.” UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center. (April 1, 2007). Paper UCB-TSC-RR-2007-1.
"Estimating the Number of Children Who Can Walk to School” (2007)
- National estimates suggest that 14%-19% of children walk to school while state and local estimates suggest that 4% to 20% of children walk to school.
- The most commonly reported reason by parents why children do not walk to school is distance (62%).
- This study estimates the percentage of children in Georgia who live within a safe and reasonable walking distance from school.
- Results report that the estimated percentage of potential walkers is well below 50% for all but the 1-mile radius for early and late elementary school students.
- This study suggests that increasing the percentage of students who walk will require educational efforts and changes to the built environment.
Falb, Matthew D., Kanny, Dafna, Powell, Kenneth E., and Giarrusso, Anthony J. “Estimating the Number of Children Who Can Walk to School.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 33.4 (2007): 269-275.
- This study identifies, describes, and assesses patterns in legislation from 2003 to 2005 that prevent childhood obesity.
- Results report that 17% of bills and 53% of resolutions were adopted.
- Community-related topic areas, including walking and bike paths (37%) have the highest proportion of bills adopted, followed by model school policies (29%) and safe routes to school (28%).
- Public health and health policy practitioners can use this information to identify relevant policies, understand bill characteristics that are associated with adoption for more successful advocacy efforts, and examine the outcomes of implemented policy.
Boehmer, Tegan K, Brownson, Ross C, Haire-Joshu, Debra and Dreisinger, Mariah L. “Patterns of Childhood Obesity Prevention Legislation in the United States.” Preventing Chronic Disease. 4.3 (2007): 1-11.
- This paper examines existing empirical data on the known behaviors that lead to crashes involving children and the effects of 10 safety countermeasures incorporated by Safe Routes to School programs.
- This paper identifies the safety benefits associated with countermeasures and areas for future research.
Dumbaugh, Eric and Frank, Lawrence. “Traffic Safety and Safe Routes to School: Synthesizing the Empirical Evidence.” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. (2009/2007): 89-97.
- This study reviews survey results among university employees. Survey results reveal that car commuters find their journey more stressful than other mode users.
- Walking and cycling journeys are found to be the most relaxing and exciting form of travel.
- Researchers suggest that implications of this study include sustainable transport policy initiatives to persuade people to use their car less.
Gatersleben, Birgitta and Uzzell, David. “Affective Appraisals of the Daily Commute. Comparing Perceptions of Drivers, Cyclists, Walkers, and Users of Public Transport.” Environment and Behavior. 39.3 (2007): 416-431.
- This paper examines how children’s travel to school is affected by school choice and providing bus service.
- The number of students who walk to neighborhood schools is calculated at more than 6 times greater than the city-wide school.
- In a scenario without buses, city-wide schools have six times fewer children walking to school, 4.5 times more miles traveled, 4.5 times the system cost and 4.5 times the emissions of criteria air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
- Bus service decreases miles traveled and resulting emissions by 60-70% compared to no bus service.
- The authors suggests policy recommendation for neighborhood walkability consider the implications of specific school district choice programs be addressed in conjunction with traffic patterns.
Wilson, Elizabeth J., Wilson, Ryan and Krizek, Kevin J. “The Implications of School Choice on Travel Behavior and Environmental Emissions.” Transportation Research Part D. 12.7 (2007): 506-518.