2014 - Research

Elementary School Participation Safe Routes to School Programming is Associated with Higher Rates of Student Active Travel to School

This research brief examines elementary school administrators’ reports of school participation in Safe Routes to School initiatives and estimated rates of active travel by students, as collected by surveys from administrators at nationally-representative samples of U.S. public elementary schools between the 2006-07 and 2012-13 school years.

  • Results:  The prevalence of elementary school participation in SRTS programs grew steadily over the past seven years, increasing by 54 percent between 2006-07 and 2012-13 (from14.2% of schools to 21.8% of schools). Rates of student active travel to school, as estimated by school administrators, were 60 percent higher at schools that participated in SRTS programs (where 32.4% of students walked or biked) than at schools that did not participate (where 20.2% of students walked or biked). In examining the 2012-13 survey, SRTS programming did not differ by the school’s socioeconomic characteristics.
  • Conclusions: Active travel is a promising strategy for keeping children physically active and for reducing the adverse health consequences of inactivity, such as childhood obesity. SRTS programs are associated with higher reported rates of children walking or biking to school.

Turner L, Slater S, Chaloupka FJ. . (2014). Elementary School Participation in Safe Routes to School Programming is Associated with Higher Rates of Student Active Travel to School. In H. P. C. Bridging the Gap Program, Institute for Health Research and Policy (Ed.), A BTG Research Brief. Chicago, IL.: University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Authored by: 
Turner L
Slater S
Chaloupka FJ.