Encouraging Active School Travel by Making it "Cool" A quasi-experimental study using Boltage, Phase II

Yizhao Yang, University of Oregon


  • William Harbaugh, University of Oregon
  • Noreen McDonald, University of North Carolina


The research on children’s school travel has studied the impacts of the built environment on children walking or biking to school. This three-year
research project contributes to current literature by investigating the role played by socio-psychological factors in affecting the environment -
travel behavior relationship. By evaluating intervention programs implemented in two elementary and two middle schools involving the use of a
novel device called “Boltage,” this project conducted a quasi-experimental study to examine how peer influences, incentives and perceived social
acceptance have affected the students’ active school travel. This project used data collected through Boltage scanners, focus groups and surveys to
identify attitudinal and behavioral changes following the implementation of Boltage programs, and compare the changes reported from eight other
comparable schools where no such interventions were applied.

Analysis findings provide evidence for the effectiveness of the Boltage programs in improving the rates of children walking or biking to school. In
addition to school travel distance, parents’ attitudes and their perceived social approval of active school travel played a critical role in determining
the likelihood of a student walking or biking to school. Schools that have received Boltage treatment witnessed improvements in parents’ attitudes
over the study period. The perceived social approval, however, did not appear to have been affected by the implementation of Boltage programs,
although parents perceived stronger school support for active school travel in light of the Boltage programs. Younger students tended to respond
more positively to the incentives and reported peer influences on their school travel.

Knowledge gained from this project can inform professionals and advocates who hope to develop effective intervention programs for active
school travel in three ways: 1. Interventions should target students living within a short distance to schools (less than one mile or so) and parents
who exhibit favorable attitudes; 2. Focus on the socializing benefits afforded by children walking or biking to school together when promoting
active school travel and create socializing opportunities in the intervention programs; and 3. Incentive-based interventions have greater effects on
younger children, and the design of an intervention program should focus on helping children and parents identify suitable approaches to active
school travel

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
June 30,2014
UTC Grant Cycle:
Tier 1 Round 1
UTC Funding:

Other Products

  • Understanding the impacts of socio-psychological factors on children's active school travel. (PRESENTATION)
  • Yizhao Yang/Understanding the sociopsychological factors affecting active travel to school (PRESENTATION)
  • Yizhao Yang/ What motivate students to walk or bike to school: a case study using a Boltage program experiment (PRESENTATION)
  • Yizhao Yang/ What motivate students to walk or bike to school: a case study using a Boltage program experiment (PRESENTATION)