2015 - Research

Effect of a School Choice Policy Change on Active Commuting to Elementary School

In this study, a school choice policy that decreased the overall distance from students’ residences to school was not associated with significant changes in active commuting. Even though commute distance is often associated with active travel to school, this study shows that other policies and education/engagement programs might 


  • The policy change significantly decreased the distance of student residences from school (-.09 mi).
  • There were no statistically significant changes in proportion of students actively commuting or number of automobiles during morning and afternoon school travel at each school, but incremental changes at the school level could achieve district-wide effects.
  • Researchers also suggested that habitual changes in active commuting behaviors might take longer to respond to the policy change than the time period of the study.


  • This study collected data on 20,500 students at 3 K-5 and K-8 public schools in Minneapolis before and after a school choice policy implemented in 2010 that limited school selection to the geographic zone where the student lived.


Sirard, J. R., Mcdonald, K., Mustain, P., & Hogan, W. (2015). Effect of a School Choice Policy Change on Active Commuting to Elementary School, American Journal of Health Promotion 30(1), 28–36. http://doi.org/10.4278/ajhp.

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Authored by: 
J. R.
& Hogan