Submitted to: Pediatric Academic Society
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2006
Publication Date: 5/1/2007
Citation: Mendoza, J.A., Levinger, D., Johnson, B.D. 2007. A walking school bus program increased students' walking to school and decreased transport by car [abstract]. In: Pediatric Academic Society Annual Meeting Abstract Book, General Pediatrics and Preventive Pediatrics Sessions, May 5-8, 2007, Toronto, Canada. Abstract No. 259. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Walking school buses are popular programs designed to overcome barriers and increase the numbers of children who walk to school. We tested the hypothesis that a walking school bus program would increase the proportion of children walking to school and decrease the proportion transported to school by private motor vehicle in the long term. We evaluated a walking school bus program implemented in Seattle, Washington's Central District neighborhood at one urban public elementary school and chose two similar nearby elementary schools as controls. The intervention school was assigned a part-time walking school bus coordinator who recruited parent volunteers and children to walk to school as part of the program. The main outcome measure was the childrens method of transportation to school as determined by an in-classroom, hands-up survey obtained at baseline and one-year follow-up. We conducted a controlled, quasi-experimental trial and used a test for independent proportions to compare the proportion of children transported to school at the intervention versus control schools. At baseline, the proportions of students walking to school with or without an adult to the intervention or control schools did not differ (P>0.05). At 12-month follow up, the differences in proportion of students walking to school with an adult (9.7%, 95% CI [6.3, 13.1) and without an adult (3.6%, 95% CI [0.2, 7.1]) to the intervention school versus control schools favored the intervention school. At baseline, the proportion of students driven by car to the intervention and control schools did not differ (P>0.05). At 12-month follow up, the difference in proportion of students being driven by car to the intervention school was significantly lower than the proportion at the control schools (-10.3%, 95% CI [-16.5, -4.1]). No children from the three study schools were injured in child pedestrian events during the study period. A walking school bus program favorably changed student travel patterns school-wide by increasing the number of children walking to school and decreasing the number transported by car at long-term follow-up.