Lee, C., Zhu, X., Yoon, J., & Varni, J. W. (2013). Beyond Distance: Children's School Travel Mode Choice. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 45(Suppl 1), S55-S67.
BACKGROUND: Long distance is a leading environmental barrier to walking to school and requires long-term, multilevel interventions. Meanwhile, childhood obesity remains highly prevalent, calling for more immediate solutions. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine attitudinal and environmental correlates of walking to the elementary school, controlling for distance. METHODS: Using parental survey data, 601 child pairs with matched home locations and different school travel modes (walking vs. private automobile) were examined, using conditional logistic regressions. RESULTS: Despite the same/similar objectively measured distance and home location, perceptions of distance, sidewalk and traffic conditions, park presence, and convenience of walking differed between walkers and automobile users. Parental attitudes and children’s preferences were associated with the odds of walking. Safety concerns (traffic danger, stranger danger, and getting lost) were higher among drivers, but only significant in bivariate analyses. CONCLUSIONS: To promote walking to school, route/street improvements appear promising, but parallel educational and promotional efforts may be needed to address perceptual and attitudinal barriers.