2016 - Research

Active Travel to School: Percentage of Students Living in Areas with Supportive Policies

Key takeaway:

  • Few children live in areas with policies promoting active transportation to school, with community income level and geography (rural vs. suburban/urban) influencing the likelihood of being covered by certain policies. 

Results:

  • Of policies evaluated, those most likely to be codified included policies that address speed limits around schools or sidewalks around schools.
    • “Children were most likely to live in communities with codified policies that addressed speed limits around schools (35%), followed by sidewalks around schools (34%). Children were least likely to live in communities with codified policies that specifically addressed Safe Routes to Schools programs (5%) and siting schools within walking distance of residential areas (5%).”
    • Children in low-income and rural areas even less likely to live in areas with supportive policies than those in mid/high income or suburban/urban areas.
      • “Children residing in rural communities were significantly less likely than those in suburban/urban communities to live in areas with codified policies related to general school siting (5% vs. 16%), crossing guards near schools (6% vs. 14%), and schools near park and recreational areas (3% vs. 13%).”
      • “Children residing in low-income communities were significantly less likely than those in mid/high-income communities to be living in areas with codified policies related to sidewalks near schools (29% vs. 37%), general school siting (9% vs. 16%), and schools near park and recreational areas (6% vs. 13%).”

Methods:

  • This brief analyzed county and municipal policies that would promote active travel to school in 468 communities representing 900 jurisdictions from a nationally representative sample of public middle and high schools. Policies were collected from 2010-2012 and were analyzed for connections to school siting, sidewalk/trail networks, crosswalks, crossing guards, speed limits, and general safe routes to school.
Authored by: 
Thrun E
Chriqui JF
Slater SJ
Chaloupka FJ