Safe Routes to School Program in California: An Update

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1 Safe Routes to School Program in California: An Update Claudia Chaufan, MD, PhD Jarmin Yeh, MSSW, MPH Leslie Ross, PhD Pat Fox, PhD, MSW Institute for Health & Aging, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences The data collection for this study was supported by the California Department of Transportation (grant SRTSLNI-6342 [004]). We acknowledge Paul Tang from the Institute for Health & Aging, UCSF; Austin Brown from the National Center for Safe Routes to Schools, Highway Safety Research Center, University of North Carolina; and Lisa Cirill and Victoria Custodio from the California Department of Public Health.

2 Background Since 1999, Caltrans has invested $189 million toward improving community infrastructure and promoting safe walking and biking to/from school. Of this investment, $45 million was made available through the federal SRTS Program authorized by SAFETEA-LU (Pub L No ). Of this, $3.8 million was used to fund a partnership between UCSF and the CDPH to form a technical assistance resource center to support SRTS projects throughout the state. The evaluation of SRTS projects is a small part of the non-infrastructure efforts. Background reference, California SRTS Program case study, May 23,

3 Method/Data Sources Caltrans requires SRTS awardees to submit evaluation data to the National Center of SRTS. Data collected between were de-identified and sent to CDPH/UCSF for analysis. Data sources included: Students Arrival and Departure Tally Sheet Parents Survey About Walking and Biking to School This evaluation is the first phase of ongoing SRTS programs in CA and we assessed ways to enhance data collection and provide suggestions for future research. Findings published in: American Journal of Public Health (Doi: /AJPH ) Journal of Behavioral Health (Doi: /jbh ) May 23,

4 Data Among 219 funded programs in California, 20% (N=42) submitted evaluation data representing: 81 towns and cities 392 schools 63,078 unique parent records 412,932 student responses May 23,

5 Background of schools Grade distribution in participating % Freq schools PreK K Frequency Missing = 30 May 23,

6 Background of students Student Grade Distribution Grade % K Unknown 4.82 May 23,

7 Results from student tally Mode of school transport choices among students (n=412,932) from schools participating in SRTS programs in CA, Total family vehicle walk carpool school bus bike other public transit 100% 57.08% 22.36% 9.29% 6.49% 3.26% 1.01% 0.51% 412, ,713 92,334 38,367 26,790 13,449 4,180 2,099 May 23,

8 Child asked permission to walk/bike % Freq Yes No May 23,

9 Grade level to allow child to walk/bike to/from school Grade Level % Freq PreK K st nd rd th th th th th th th th th Uncomfortable at any grade Unknown Frequency Missing = 3070 May 23,

10 School encourages walk/bike to/from school % Freq Strongly Encourages Encourages Neither Discourages Strongly Discourages Frequency Missing = 3366 May 23,

11 Walk/Bike to/from school is fun for your child % Freq Very Fun Fun Neutral Boring Very Boring Frequency Missing = 5611 May 23,

12 Walk/Bike to/from school is healthy for your child % Freq Very Healthy Healthy Neutral Unhealthy Very Unhealthy Frequency Missing = 4564 May 23,

13 Safety concerns affecting decision to allow your child to commute Issue Name Freq % Safety of % Intersections and Crossings Speed of Traffic % Along Route Amount of Traffic % Along Route Violence or Crime % Sidewalks or % Pathways Crossing Guards % Adults to Bike/Walk With % May 23,

14 Would let your child actively commute if safety concerns were addressed (%) Yes No Not sure No reply Adults to Bike/Walk With Crossing Guards Safety of Intersections and Crossings Speed of Traffic Along Route Amount of Traffic Along Route Sidewalks or Pathways Violence or Crime May 23,

15 Convenience concerns affecting decision to allow your child to commute Issue Name Freq % Distance % Weather or climate % Time % Child's before/after % school activities Convenience of Driving % May 23,

16 Would let your child actively commute if convenience concerns were addressed (%) Yes No Not sure No reply Distance Time Child's before/after-school activities Weather or climate Convenience of Driving May 23,

17 Likelihood of actively commuting associated with parental views on active commuting Actively commuting Parental views on active commuting Yes % (n) No % (n) Odds ratio (95% CL) Chi-square p-value Fun/ Boring Fun (10,504) (20,185) Boring (461) (2,600) 2.93 ( ) Healthy/ Unhealthy Healthy (13,923) (34,971) Unhealthy (71) (559) 3.13 ( ) Child's School Encourages/ Discourages Encourages (8,919) (16,544) Discourages (327) (1,923) 3.17 ( ) May 23,

18 Likelihood of actively commuting associated with parental openness to change regarding safety concerns Parental concerns Safety Concerns Yes % (n) Actively commuting No % (n) Odds ratio (95% CL) Chi-square p-value Crossing Guards Sidewalks or pathways Adults to walk or bike with Violence or crime Safety of intersections and crossings Speed of traffic along route Amount of traffic along route Yes No (1,111) (109) (4,050) (979) 2.46 ( ) Yes (819) (4,401) 2.29 No 7.52 (113) (1,389) ( ) Yes (828) (4,593) 1.67 No 9.72 (98) (910) ( ) Yes (1,183) (6,453) 1.74 No 9.54 (461) (4,372) ( ) Yes (1,852) (10,319) 2.02 No 8.15 (315) (3,550) ( ) Yes (1,373) (8,355) 2.02 No 7.53 (315) (3,870) ( ) Yes (1,226) (7,995) 1.93 No 7.35 (289) (3,645) ( ) May 23,

19 Likelihood of actively commuting associated with parental openness to change regarding convenience concerns Parental concerns Convenience Concerns Yes % (n) Actively commuting No % (n) Odds ratio (95% CL) Chi-square p-value Weather or climate Yes (873) (4,760) No 8.35 (273) (2,995) 2.01 ( ) Child s before or after school activities Yes (411) (2,928) No 5.76 (110) (1,801) 2.29 ( ) Distance Yes (1,180) (9,299) No 5.71 (261) (4,312) 2.09 ( ) Time Yes (645) (5,162) No 5.00 (120) (2,281) 2.38 ( ) Convenience driving Yes 9.74 (219) (2,029) 1.67 No 6.08 (98) (1,515) ( ) May 23,

20 Limitations Small number of awardees provided evaluation data. Low reliability found among the subjective/attitudinal questions on the parent survey (McDonald et al. 2011, doi: / ). Self-report nature of the surveys may have led to biases (e.g. recall, social desirability). Aggregate data was collected, therefore there is no information on individual-level commuting practices. Unable to identify linkages between parent-child dyads. Younger children (K-3 rd grade) were disproportionately represented. Data does not differentiate between community types (i.e. rural, urban, suburban). May 23,

21 Suggestions for enhanced data collection Caltrans requires awardees to return data to the National Center for SRTS, however compliance could be improved by enforcing data submission with incentives or sanctions. Collecting information on community type could help program developers and policy makers tailor their efforts to address a community s unique geographic needs (i.e. spatial design, urban planning, etc.) Using geographic information systems (GIS) to cross reference school zip codes with census tract data to provide demographic and socioeconomic information could help identify approaches better fitting the populations living in these areas. May 23,

22 Suggestions for future research Qualitatively exploring children s after-school activities, routines, and perceptions may provide a better understanding of how children and their families make commuting decisions. Continuing to interview key stakeholders such as principals, city planners, school board members, etc. may help determine their level of interest in or satisfaction with SRTS efforts. Parents play a critical role in children s commuting practices, therefore a more thorough investigation of their perspectives may allow a better understanding of what policy courses could increase parental support for SRTS efforts and help implement successful and sustainable programs. Our data did not include any SES or child health variables. It may be interesting for future studies to examine how SES influences families active commuting choices and, subsequently, child health outcomes such as physical activity and obesity. May 23,

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