Using parental active travel behavior and beliefs to predict active travel to school among children

Dangaia Sims, Melissa Bopp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Active travel (AT) is associated with improved health in adults and children, and children’s AT to school has steadily declined in recent years. Understanding influences on AT will inform intervention development to increase AT among youth. Therein, this study aimed to examine the relationship between AT of children to school and parental AT behavior and beliefs. This was a cross-sectional study of employed adults conducted via an online survey. Participants reported the number of times per week their children, themselves and their spouses actively traveled. Beliefs for AT were also measured. Logistic regressions predicted child AT to school based on parental AT behavior and beliefs. Parents (n = 344) were primarily white (85.8%), female (66.3%), overweight or obese (48.0%) and married (82.6%), with high levels of income and education and reported that 12.2% (n = 41) of their children were active travelers. Children had higher odds of AT to school if the parent actively traveled (Odds ratio [OR] = 1.23 [1.12–1.34], p<.001) or the spouse was an active traveler (OR = 1.28 [1.14–1.45], p<.001). Speaking with children about reasons for AT (OR = 1.61 [1.19–2.18], p=.002), children being eager to actively travel to school (OR = 4.20 [2.82–6.25], p<.001), and parental AT as a child (OR = 1.29 [1.03–1.60], p=.02) were associated with more AT, and odds of children actively traveling to school were lower with higher parent body mass index (OR = 0.87 [0.79–0.96], p=.005) and more cars in the household (OR = 0.47 [0.30–0.72], p=.001). These findings suggest that children’s AT to school is directly influenced by the travel behavior, attitudes, and beliefs of parents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-348
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Transportation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 3 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation


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