, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 129-134
Date: 18 Oct 2008

Prevalence and Correlates of Walking and Biking to School Among Adolescents

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Abstract

Increasing the rates that our adolescents walk and bicycle to school, also called active transport to school (ATS), could increase the physical activity (PA) levels of that age group. This type of activity has been identified as a missed opportunity for PA. It is currently estimated that 15% of American youth walk or bicycle to school. These rates of ATS are lower than those of European and Asian youth. Efforts to enhance levels of non-motorized transport to school could aid in reducing obesity rates among American youth, decrease traffic congestion and attenuate emission of greenhouse gasses. The objective was to identify demographic, environmental and psychosocial predictors of ATS. A 30-questionnaire was completed by 2,692 students. Logistic regression was used to identify psychosocial, demographic and environmental predictors of ATS. Only 4.6% of students used ATS. Predictors of ATS were street connectedness (density of street intersections) and gender, (boys had higher ATS rates). Public health officials should be alert for opportunities to select sites for new schools that are in neighborhoods with well connected street systems. Interventions promoting ATS will need to target male and female students and there appears to be an opportunity to increase rates that students bicycle to school.