School-crossing-guard-manual-paired-with-biking-walking-safety-education

School crossing guard manual paired with biking, walking safety education

Kids in Louisiana get to school in many different ways but walking is usually involved at some point – whether that's from a parent's car, a school bus, home, or after locking up a bike.

To make the journey safer, the Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC) recently created a school crossing guard manual at the request of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. Click here to download a copy of the manual.

The creation of the manual was part of a larger Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program to implement and evaluate biking and walking safety education for more than 330 4th and 5th grade students at 10 New Orleans schools. The program also assessed attitudes of parents about children walking and biking to school and provided safety equipment to school crossing guards.

"We know regular physical activity, like walking and biking, is an important habit for staying healthy and preventing diseases. To make it easier and safer to get that activity, we saw the need for schools, students and families to learn about and practice street safety," said John Marmion, SRTS program coordinator at the Tulane PRC.

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a federally-funded program partnering with states for the purpose of increasing community health by making walking and biking to schools safe for the nation's children. SRTS Louisiana funded the Tulane PRC project in partnership with the local bike advocacy nonprofit Bike Easy. Bike Easy provided the safety education courses that were interactive including practice with bikes and helmets. Students took surveys at the end of the educational program, and parents were also given surveys. The Tulane PRC led the evaluation and analysis.

The bike training was more successful with 15 of 19 classes obtaining a class mean of 70 percent or more for the bike quiz. Only 5 of 19 classes achieved the same score for the walking quiz. Of the parents who responded to the survey, more than 50 percent lived more than 2 miles from school. Parents said that transportation to and from school was mostly by bus (65 percent), but also by car (24 percent), walking (10 percent), and public transit (1 percent). Generally, parents were not in favor of children walking or biking to school with distance to school being the most frequently identified barrier (53 percent) and sidewalk quality (20 percent), traffic (16 percent), and time (14 percent) also being cited as barriers.

"We found that the walking and biking education classes were interactive and fun, and some classes learned from them with optimal scores on their quizzes," said Dr. Johnson, Director of the Tulane PRC and principal investigator for the SRTS program. "But parental concerns about the distance to school and road conditions remain an issue. We hope the education of students and the use of our crossing guard manual will help improve safety for students and eventually increase walking and biking for everyone."

December 2016
(Photo: Students at ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy.)

Topics:   walking , biking , sidewalks , school health , training , physical activity

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