Conceptualizing social capital and active transportation to school through a social-ecological model
Active transportation to school (ATS) has received an increasing amount of attention over the past decade due to its promising health contributions. Most of the existing research that surrounds ATS investigates factors from the physical environment as well as factors from the individual perspective that influence walking and biking to school. This research attempts to add to the existing knowledge by exploring the impact that social relationships within the neighborhood have on ATS.
A model, based on social ecological theory, was presented and tested to examine elements thought to influence ATS. A logistic regression analysis was run to determine the odds of students walking or biking based on the influence of each construct within the model. Results indicated that the physical and socio-cultural constructs were directly and significantly related to ATS behavior while the construct of safety had an indirect effect. These findings support the idea that there are several factors that operate within and across different ecological levels to influence the mode of transportation to school. Therefore, programs to promote ATS should involve multi-level strategies. In addition to the physical environment, interventions should address interpersonal relationships within the family, school, and neighborhood.