An evaluation of the effectiveness of the federal safe routes to school program using before-and-after data from four states
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
In 2005, the U.S. Congress identified increasing walking and bicycling to school and making it safer for children to do so a critical national objective in the Safe Efficient, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy to Its Users (SAFETEA-LU). Since the passage of this legislation, the USDOT has allocated over $1.15 billion to fund Safe Routes to School (SRTS) interventions throughout the country. Although the program has received much media attention, no large-scale before-and-after study has been completed to understand the effectiveness of SRTS interventions. As structured by Congress, the SRTS program required that between 70% and 90% of the funds be spend on infrastructure projects (e.g., sidewalks, off-road facilities) and the remaining 10% and 30% be spent on non-infrastructure projects, such as safety education, encouragement and enforcement. This paper presents the results of a two-year study in which data on the specific type of intervention, the expenditures and the timing of the interventions was collected on SRTS expenditures in four states Florida, Texas, Oregon, and the District of Columbia. The data on the interventions is matched to the data that has been collected on the number of children walking and bicycling to school as reported in the data collected by the National Center for Safe Routes to School. These data are then compared to control schools to measure the effectiveness of the SRTS expenditures while controlling for other factors, such as the location of the school, the socio-demographics of the neighborhood and the safety of the neighborhood. Results suggest that some SRTS interventions have increased walking and biking to school and show strong promise in increasing physical activity.
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related public policy
Describe and summarize the expenditures under the federal Safe Routes to School program in five states
Identify factors contributing to changes in the number of children walking and bicycling to school before and after infrastructure and non-infrastructure investments
Evaluate the effectiveness of the federal Safe Routes to School program.
Keyword(s): Physical Activity, School-Based Programs
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the PI on the RWJF grant supporting this research and have overseen the project.
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.