218262 Walk/Bike Policies in Maryland Schools: Prevalence, Barriers and Facilitators

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 1:06 PM - 1:24 PM

Carolyn Voorhees, MS, PhD , Department of Public and Community Health, University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park, MD
RJ Eldridge, MS , Urban Planning, Toole Design Group, Hyattsville, MD
Katherine Mencarini, MS , Urban Planning, Toole Design Group, Hyattsville, MD
Megan Gregory, BS , Public and Community Health, University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park, MD
James Elliot, MS , Urban Planning, Toole Design Group, Hyattsville, MD
Michael Jackson, JD , Pedestrian and Bike Coordinator, MDOT, Hanover, MD
Background: Walking and biking to school potentially can increase overall physical activity levels in school age children. Little is known about the prevalence of walk/bike rules/policies or the barriers and facilitators at the school/district levels and how these may vary in urban versus rural areas and socioeconomic status (SES) of the school. Methods: A 25% random sample of elementary (n=248), middle (n=65) and high schools (n=58) in Maryland were selected to participate in a web-based survey with telephone follow-up. School selection was stratified by geography (urban vs rural) and by SES of the schools (% free/reduced lunch). The State Departments of Education and Transportation endorsed the project with individual counties and districts providing approval to contact school administrators/principals. Administrators were contacted at least 2 times by email and telephone. Results: Most administrators completed the survey online with some completing the survey over the telephone with a trained interviewer. A total of 320 schools were surveyed (elementary 189, middle 57, high 55) which represents 88% of our original sample. Few schools refused (5) to complete the survey with most missing data (23) representing failure to respond to email and telephone follow-up. Schools rarely had some type of walk/bike rule in place. Schools that did not report having walk bike rules cited common barriers or concerns. Conclusion: Walk/bike rules were not common in most Maryland jurisdictions. Further research should examine programs that can encourage more schools to adopt these rules or policies by addressing the common barriers found in this study.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Administration, management, leadership
Advocacy for health and health education
Environmental health sciences
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe, define and explain methods used to select the sample and conduct the survey. Discus lsessons learned to enable participants to conduct a state-wide survey in their state. Identify and discuss strategies to increase or improve school level policies and reduce barriers

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I oversee programs that relate to neighborhood environment and physical activity
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.