Evaluation of the California Safe Routes to School legislation: urban form changes and children's active transportation to school

Marlon G Boarnet, Craig L Anderson, Kristen Day, Tracy McMillan, Mariela Alfonzo
American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2005, 28 (2): 134-40

BACKGROUND: Walking or bicycling to school could contribute to children's daily physical activity, but physical environment changes are often needed to improve the safety and convenience of walking and cycling routes. The California Safe Routes to School (SR2S) legislation provided competitive funds for construction projects such as sidewalks, traffic lights, pedestrian crossing improvements, and bicycle paths.

METHODS: A cross-sectional evaluation examined the relationship between urban form changes and walking and bicycle travel to school. Surveys were distributed to parents of third- through fifth-grade children at ten schools that had a completed SR2S project nearby. Two groups were created based on whether parents stated that their children would pass the SR2S project on the way to school or not.

RESULTS: Children who passed completed SR2S projects were more likely to show increases in walking or bicycle travel than were children who would not pass by projects (15% vs 4%), based on parents' responses.

CONCLUSIONS: Results support the effectiveness of SR2S construction projects in increasing walking or bicycling to school for children who would pass these projects on their way to school.

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