Community environments and walking-to-school behaviors: multi-level correlates and underlying disparities

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Title: Community environments and walking-to-school behaviors: multi-level correlates and underlying disparities
Author: Zhu, Xuemei
Abstract: Walking can be a safe , healthy , and affordable mode of school transportation . However , most students today do not use walking for their school travel . More research is needed to understand the correlates of walking to or from school and to identify effective interventions . This is a cross -sectional study of 73 public elementary schools in the Austin Independent School District of Texas . The first phase used geographic information systems and field audits to examine school -level disparities in the environmental support for walking in schools ? attendance areas . The second phase involved surveys of students ? parents or guardians to identify the multi -level correlates of using walking as their children ?s typical school travel mode . In the first phase , results from analyses of variance and linear regressions indicated the existence of disparities . Lower economic status of student population was associated with poorer street conditions (e .g . , maintenance , visual quality , amenities , and perceived safety ) , shorter distances to school , and lower traffic volumes . Higher percentage of Hispanic students within a school was associated with increased danger from traffic and crime and more sidewalks , greater population density , and mixed land uses . The second phase used binary logistic regressions to predict walking to or from school . Among the personal and social factors , parents ? education , car ownership , personal barriers , and school bus availability were negative correlates , while parents ? and children ?s positive attitude and regular walking habit and supportive peer influences were positive correlates . Of the physical environmental factors , long distance and safety concerns were the strongest negative correlates , followed by the presence of highways or freeways , convenience stores , office buildings , and bus stops en route . In conclusion , environmental interventions are needed to develop centrallylocated neighborhood schools , barrier -free attendance areas , and well -maintained pedestrian infrastructure . Disparities and fine -grained differences are found in the environmental support for walking . A high priority for low -income , Hispanic children and interventions tailored for specific contexts and populations appear necessary . Safety improvement is indispensible in terms of both traffic and crime and should be supplemented with educational programs that target both parents and children . Finally , multi -agency collaborations are needed at the policy level to support and facilitate these multi -level interventions .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -3105
Date: 2009-05-15


Community environments and walking-to-school behaviors: multi-level correlates and underlying disparities. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -3105 .

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