208390 Two steps forward: State policy approaches to ensuring safe routes to school

Monday, November 9, 2009: 11:10 AM

Kerri M. Lowrey, JD, MPH , Public Health Law Network, University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore, MD
Carissa Holmes , The MayaTech Corporation, Center for Health Policy and Legislative Analysis, Silver Spring, MD
Jennifer E. Noll , Center for Health Policy and Legislative Analysis, The MayaTech Corporation, Silver Spring, MD
Jamie F. Chriqui, PhD, MHS , Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Frank J. Chaloupka, PhD , Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Background: The correlation between rising childhood obesity rates and the decline of regular physical activity may be partly attributable to reductions in the number of children walking/biking to school (dropping from ~50% in 1969 to <15% in 2007) (RWJF, 2007). This decline is associated with many factors, including safety concerns and distance between residential areas and schools. In 2005, Congress passed a law (SAFETEA-LU) that distributed Federal funds to states for SRTS programs, resulting in an upsurge in state SRTS laws. SAFETEA-LU will come before Congress for reauthorization in 2009, providing a tremendous opportunity to enforce/expand upon existing provisions that promote student health (APHA, 2008).

In light of SAFETEA-LU's pending reauthorization, this presentation examines state SRTS policy data effective as of January 1 for 2007-2009 and assesses variance and change in state SRTS policy approaches.

Methodology: SRTS-related statutory and administrative laws from the 50 states and D.C. were obtained from Westlaw and examined according to a classification scheme. Noncodified policies were collected via Internet research, verified by phone with state SRTS contacts, and analyzed.

Results: Preliminary data indicate wide variation among state SRTS laws—particularly in areas related to adherence to Federal SRTS requirements, program formality, vetting criteria, evaluation, and specific engineering, enforcement, and education provisions. Most states have implemented enforcement-based traffic control measures in school zones. Most states without a codified SRTS program employ other SRTS policy approaches, and states with the greatest volume of alternative SRTS policy approaches do not have a SRTS program addressed by state law.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe and discuss various state policy approaches designed to promote walking/biking to school and ensure safe routes to school (SRTS), 2. Assess variation and change over the period 2007-2009 in SRTS policy nuances and approaches among states, 3. Discuss opportunities related to the 2009 reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU.

Keywords: Children's Health, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have more than 10 years of experience in legal and policy research and analysis, writing and editing, and oral presentations and lectures. I holds a juris doctorate degree from the University of Maryland School of Law and a master’s degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. My areas of research have included the role of law in cancer prevention, particularly in the areas obesity prevention and health inequities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.