An Observation Method for Determining the Number of Children and Adults Walking/Biking to Elementary School

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Methods are needed to assess the impact of walk-to-school programs on behavior. This study developed an observation method for counting the number of children and adults walking/biking to school.


Two elementary schools located in different urban, US census tracts were chosen for this study. Six walking/biking routes to each school were observed for 30 min before and after school. Strict guidelines were followed for determining whether a child/adult was counted.


Levels of agreement between observers were over 97% for children and adults. Reliability coefficients (R) for two days of observations exceeded 0.90 for children and adults walking. No differences were seen between days of the week or before and after school observation periods (P > 0.05). The number seen walking did depend on the route observed (P < 0.01).


This study presents a reliable observation method for determining the number of children and adults walking and biking to/from school.

Suminski is with the Kansas City University of Medicine and Bioscience, Kansas City, MO 64106. Petosa, Stevens, and Katzenmoyer are with the School of Physical Activity and Educational Services, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210. Poston is with the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, MO 64110.