Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A safer route to school makes children more likely to walk and bike

24.02.2005


Increased physical activity may be positive side effect of state program



A state program designed to make children’s routes to school safer may actually be encouraging kids to walk or bike to school more often – something that’s good for their health.

The UC Irvine study examining the effectiveness of the California Safe Routes to Schools program is the first to evaluate whether changes to the built environment can increase pedestrian travel to school. The study looks at elementary schools located near improvements funded by the Safe Routes to School program, such as additional traffic lights, new crosswalks and improved sidewalks. Parent surveys show that children who pass by these improvement projects on their route to school are three times as likely to walk or bike to school when the project is completed, compared to classmates who do not pass such projects.


“The kind of infrastructure improvements we looked at in this study are the low-hanging fruit of transportation projects, and it’s quite impressive that these are producing measurable effects,” said Marlon Boarnet, chair of UCI’s planning, policy and design department, and lead author of the study. “It suggests that we ought to think more about these small, strategic projects.”

The study is published this month in a special Active Living supplement of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, available online. Existing research shows that physical activity is important for healthy children and adults. And although three decades ago nearly half of American schoolchildren got to school via physically active modes, fewer than 15 percent do so today.

“When the Safe Routes to Schools program began, it was primarily focused on making kids safe on their way to school,” said Boarnet. “But as the concern about childhood obesity increases, it’s become necessary to look at how projects like this might be used to address health issues, in addition to safety and transportation issues.”

The California Safe Routes to School program funds transportation projects to make it safer for children to walk or bicycle to school, and to encourage more children to do so. Other states, including Delaware, Oregon, Texas and Washington, have funded similar programs that use engineering and other strategies to make children’s trips to school safer.

For the study, researchers surveyed parents of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at 10 elementary schools located near projects funded by the California Safe Routes to Schools program. The schools, spread over three Southern California counties, were in neighborhoods representing a wide range of demographics and urban designs.

The researchers found that existing transportation habits played a role in the effectiveness of the infrastructure improvements. For example, at schools where many children already walked to school, there was a more significant increase after the improvements. But at schools where most children were already in the habit of getting to school by car or bus, behavior changes were less marked. Although projects funded by the Safe Routes to Schools program produced measurable increases in the walking and bicycling habits of affected children, the researchers found that overall, fewer students were walking and bicycling to school, suggesting the decades-long downward trend continues.

Schools included in the research are Cesar Chavez Elementary (Bell Gardens), Glenoaks Elementary (Glendale), Jasper Elementary (Alta Loma), Juan Cabrillo Elementary (Malibu), Mt. Vernon Elementary (San Bernardino), Murrieta Elementary (Murrieta), Newman Elementary (Chino), Sheldon Elementary (El Sobrante), Valley Elementary (Yucaipa) and West Randall Elementary (Fontana).

Co-authors of the study include Craig Anderson of the UCI Center for Trauma and Injury Prevention Research; Kristen Day and Mariela Alfonzo in the Department of Planning, Policy and Design; and Tracy McMillan in the Department of Community and Regional Planning at the University of Texas, Austin. The study was funded by the University of California Transportation Center and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

The study is one article in a special issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on the relationship between the built environment and health, produced in collaboration with Active Living Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that supports cross-disciplinary research about environmental factors and policies with the potential to substantially increase physical activity among Americans of all ages, incomes and ethnic backgrounds.

About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked public university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,400 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.

Christine Byrd | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uci.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>