Do Not Forget About Public Transportation: Analysis of the Association of Active Transportation to School Among Washington, DC Area Children With Parental Perceived Built Environment Measures

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Although the active transportation (AT) indicator received an F grade on the 2016 US Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, this AT assessment excluded public transportation. An objective of the Built Environment and Active Play Study was to assess youth AT, including public transportation, among Washington, DC area children in relation to parental perceptions of neighborhood built environment (BE) variables. Methods: Questionnaires were mailed to 2000 parents of children aged 7–12 years. AT to school (ATS) was assessed with the question: “In an average school week, how many days does your child use each of the following ways to get to and from school? (a) Walk; (b) Bike; (c) Car; (d) Bus or Metro.” Parental perceived BE data were obtained through questionnaire items, and logistic regression was conducted to determine if BE variables were associated with youth ATS. Results: The sample included 144 children (50% female; average age 9.7 years; 56.3% white; 23.7% African American; 10.4% Asian American). Over 30% used ATS-public transportation 5 days per week, and nearly 13% used ATS-walking daily. Parental perceived BE variables significantly predicted youth ATS-walking and ATS-public transportation. Conclusions: ATS-public transportation is common among Washington, DC area youth, and parental perceptions of BE can significantly predict ATS.

Roberts and Rodkey are with the Dept of Kinesiology, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD. Ray is with the Dept of Sociology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD. Saelens is with the Depts of Pediatrics and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Seattle, WA.

Roberts (jenrob@umd.edu) is corresponding author.
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