Evaluation of Safe Routes to School Programs: Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Parental Decision-Making

Lynn Weigand, Portland State University


  • Noreen McDonald, University of North Carolina


In the United States, walking to school declined from 42% of 5-18 year olds in 1969 to 16% in 20011 . The US Department of Transportation has responded to this dramatic decrease by funding the Safe Routes to School program for $612 million in SAFETEA-LU. The program’s funding emphasize infrastructure improvements such as completing sidewalks and adding crosswalks by requiring between 70% and 90% of funding be allocated toward infrastructure. However, recent research shows that 2 of 3 children who currently are driven to school, but live close enough to walk, do so because it is more convenient for parents2 . Currently, policymakers and planners have few tools to estimate the effectiveness of SRTS interventions. This research project fills the research gap by developing a stated preference survey to better understand how SRTS interventions affect rates of walking. The stated preference survey identifies how parental attitudes and time constraints affect intervention effectiveness. A unique aspect of this study is the comparison of the results of the stated preference experiments with on-the-ground evaluations of Portland’s SRTS program which were collected concurrently for a separate project. The second component of the project was a series of focus groups with parents of grade levels at selected schools participating in the SRTS program. Results from the focus groups provide more in-depth information about parental attitudes and time constraints as they affect their decisions about their child’s transportation to school. In addition, it will enhance the program evaluation and provide valuable data to help program better target their program efforts toward parents.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
September 30,2011
UTC Grant Cycle:
OTREC 2010
UTC Funding:

Other Products

  • Weigand, L. (2008). A Review of the Literature: The Effectiveness of Safe Routes to School and Other Programs to Promote Active Transportation to School. Portland State University, Center for Urban Studies, Center for Transportation Studies, Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation, CUS-CTS-08-01. (PUBLICATION)