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


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:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

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: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>