Neighborhood incivilities, perceived neighborhood safety, and walking to school among urban-dwelling children

Lauren M. Rossen, Keshia M. Pollack, Frank C. Curriero, Timothy M. Shields, Mieka J. Smart, C. Debra M. Furr-Holden, Michele Cooley-Strickland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Walking to school is an important source of physical activity among children. There is a paucity of research exploring environmental determinants of walking to school among children in urban areas. Methods: A cross-sectional secondary analysis of baseline data (2007) from 365 children in the "Multiple Opportunities to Reach Excellence" (MORE) Study (8 to 13 years; Mean 9.60 years, SD 1.04). Children and caregivers were asked about walking to school and perceived safety. Objective measures of the environment were obtained using a validated environmental neighborhood assessment. Results: Over half (55.83%) of children reported walking to school most of the time. High levels of neighborhood incivilities were associated with lower levels of perceived safety (OR: 0.39, 95% CI: 0.21 to 0.72). Living on a block above the median in incivilities was associated with a 353% increase in odds of walking to school (OR: 3.53; 95% CI: 1.68 to 7.39). Conclusions: Children residing in neighborhoods high in incivilities are more likely to walk to school, in spite of lower levels of perceived safety. As a high proportion of children residing in disadvantaged neighborhoods walk to school, efforts should be directed at minimizing exposure to neighborhood hazards by ensuring safe routes to and from school.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-271
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Activity and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Active transportation
  • Community
  • Environment
  • Physical activity
  • Physical and social disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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