Barriers and strategies to implementing safe routes to school programs within disadvantaged communities: Interviews with state-level representatives

Lucas D. Elliott, Michelle Lieberman, Liza S. Rovniak, Mallika Bose, Louisa Holmes, Melissa Bopp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs promote walking, bicycling, and other alternative transportation modes to school for children. These programs have shown increases in active transportation in children and implement programs through non-infrastructure (e.g., education) and infrastructure (e.g., sidewalks) projects. Although SRTS have been shown to be successful in increasing active transportation and promoting healthy lifestyles, many state SRTS representatives have noted many barriers to reaching disadvantaged populations (e.g., low-income, communities of color, individuals with disabilities, non-English speakers, etc.), which may be contributing to the various participation/injury/fatality disparities seen within these populations. Purpose/methods: This study attempted to qualitatively understand the current barriers, successful strategies, and future resources/tools needed to provide equitable SRTS programming by interviewing state SRTS representatives/coordinators (or similar) (n = 13). Thematic analysis was conducted on interview transcripts, and eight common themes arose. Results: Themes noted barriers to funding, community involvement, lack of personnel, and lack of proper education/experience/expertise within stakeholders., Common desired resources/tools were increased funding, the hiring of consultants, and a federal SRTS mandate. Strategies to address disparities focused on strategic partnerships, both within the government and with community organizations, providing consulting to communities, and access to funding. Conclusion: Various barriers were seen among state SRTS coordinators when attempting to reach disadvantaged populations. State SRTS coordinators should attempt to implement strategies to increase their capacity to reaching disadvantaged populations, including early contact with disadvantaged communities, hiring consultants for communities, and partnering with other government organizations who attempt to address the needs of disadvantaged students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101800
JournalJournal of Transport and Health
StatePublished - May 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Transportation
  • Pollution
  • Safety Research
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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