The Influence of Urban Forms on Parents' Assessment of Neighborhood Suitability for Active Commuting to School
MetadataShow full item record
Rates of active school commuting (ASC) among elementary school age children have declined precipitously over the last three decades. Programs like Safe Routes to School seek to reverse this trend through a variety of interventions, including modifications of existing streetscapes. These costly improvements must be prioritized for maximum effect. However, while parents largely determine their children's modes of school commuting, the relationship between physical barriers to ASC and parents' attitudes toward ASC remains unclear. This study examines the school commuting behavior of students in a mid-sized Oregon City. It seeks to understand the influence that urban forms exert on children's rates of walking or biking to school, on parents' decisions to allow their children to do so, and on the assessments of neighborhood suitability for ASC that inform those parental decisions. Results show that parents' neighborhood assessment is a strong predictor of active school commuting. Moreover, parents' decisions about school commuting modes may be more influenced by environmental characteristics than by family socioeconomic characteristics. Recommendations include future research designs that examine the relationship between specific urban forms and parents' perception of neighborhood safety, with a particular focus on street density and block length.