Safe-D: Safety through Disruption

Evaluating the Safe Routes to School (SR2S) transportation program in socially vulnerable communities in San Diego County, California

Abstract

Child safety concerns are among the strongest impediments to children walking or biking to school, but some students must walk or bike due to financial or other circumstances. These travel modes are more than twice as common among students from low-income households than students from higher income households. The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program fosters opportunities for students to walk and bike to school safely and routinely. This study provides insights into the SRTS program’s effectiveness and potential to improve walking and biking safety in socially vulnerable communities by evaluating the program’s impact on schools in the Chula Vista Elementary School District, a vulnerable area in San Diego County. (i) A linear regression model was used to assess the program’s impact on each school, and a logistic regression model was employed to identify factors influencing students’ walking behavior. (ii) An SRTS web-based interactive tool (ArcGIS Experience) was developed to identify traffic incident hot spots and facilitate future routing improvements. (iii) A virtual reality (VR) road safety training tool for children was developed, and a case study at Feaster Charter Elementary School was conducted to assess its effectiveness. Twenty-six students played the VR game before and after watching traffic safety educational videos, and observations from the VR session were recorded. (iv) The outreach and deliverables from this study strengthened community collaboration across San Diego County.

Project Highlights

  • Impact Evaluation: The project seeks to evaluate the impacts of the SR2S program in schools located in socially vulnerable communities in San Diego County. This evaluation provided insights into the program’s effectiveness in enhancing safety and promoting walking and biking among students.
  • Hot Spot Identification: The project aimed to identify accident hot spots, which include injuries and fatalities. This data is valuable for future routing improvements to make routes safer.
  • Web-Based Visualization Hot Spot Tool: The project developed a web-based visualization tool for easy road safety monitoring and reporting. This tool enhances transparency and data-driven decision-making, enabling stakeholders to track progress effectively.
  • VR Educational Training: Developed VR educational road safety training for children using animation and 3D modeling. This approach engages and educates students on road safety in an interactive and engaging manner, potentially reducing accidents.
  • Community Collaboration: The project seeks to strengthen community collaboration across San Diego County, which is essential for the success of initiatives like SR2S. Communities, schools, and local authorities need to work together to improve safety and promote walking and biking to school.
  • The project underscores the urgent need to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist safety, particularly for children and students from low-income households. The Safe Routes to School program is highlighted as a critical initiative to address these issues. The proposed project in San Diego County aimed to evaluate the program’s impacts, improve safety, and promote walking and biking, while also fostering community collaboration and education. It underscores the importance of creating safe and equitable opportunities for all students, regardless of their socio-economic background, and emphasizes the role of innovative tools and education in achieving these goals.

Final Report

Final Report 06-011

EWD & T2 Products

Student thesis resulting from the project. Thesis Title of Bita Etaati: Understanding the barriers to active transportation to school (ats) and evaluating the impact of educational safety programs on traffic behavior trends in students.

Educational videos created for school-aged children on Crosswalk Safety, Pedestrian and Vehicle Safety, Railroad Safety, Road and Traffic Signal Safety. Available here: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/9b51cd43c22f4868be64c1ae74e458f8.

Virtual Reality game “KIDS 4 SAFE ROUTES” developed for online public use: https://andrick-mercado.itch.io/kids-4-safe-routes-vr

Student Impact Statement(pdf): Three students worked on this project (Bita Etaati, Andrick Mercado, Christian Mejia all from San Diego State University). This file contains a statement by these students as to the impact this project had on education and workforce development.

Presentations/Publications

Etaati B., Jahangiri A., Fernandez G., Tsou M.H., Machiani S.G. (2024). Understanding active transportation to school behavior in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities: a machine learning a SHAP analysis approach. Sustainability, 16(1) 48. https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/16/1/48

Fernandez, G. and Etaati, B. (2023, June 19). Evaluating the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Transportation Program in Socially Vulnerable Communities in San Diego County, California. Webinar SafeD Virtual Webinar is available here. PDF of PowerPoint slides from Webinar available here.

Etaati, Bita; Fernandez, Gabriela; Jahangiri, Arash; Ghanipoor-Machiani, Sahar; Mejia, Christian; Mercado, Andrick, 2023. Pedestrian and Bicycle involved accidents analysis and reviewing Safe Routes to School Program effectiveness in Chula Vista, CA, San Diego State University, Student Research Symposium 2023, San Diego, CA., March 3-4, 2023, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, Poster. SDSU Student Research Symposium 2023.

Etaati, Bita; Fernandez, Gabriela; Jahangiri, Arash; Ghanipoor-Machiani, Sahar; Mejia, Christian; Mercado, Andrick, 2022. Pedestrian and bicycle safety visualization in Chula Vista, CA, ESRI User Conference 2022, San Diego, CA, July 11, 2022. Map Gallery. Educational Map, Poster.

Etaati, Bita; Fernandez, Gabriela; Jahangiri, Arash; Ghanipoor-Machiani, Sahar; Mejia, Christian; Mercado, Andrick, 2022. Pedestrian and bicycle safety in Chula Vista, CA, One Health International Conference 2022, September 27-28, 2022, Catania, Italy, Poster.

Etaati, Bita; Fernandez, Gabriela; Jahangiri, Arash; Ghanipoor-Machiani, Sahar; Mejia, Christian; Mercado, Andrick, 2022. A visualization dashboard of pedestrian and bicycle crashes in Chula Vista, CA, International Conference on Sustainable Development 2022, Columbia University, New York, New York, September 19-20, 2022. Poster. International Conference on Sustainable Development 2022.

Fernandez, Gabriela; Jahangiri, Arash; Ghanipoor-Machiani, Sahar; Mejia, Christian; Etaati, Bita; Mercado, Andrick, 2023, Evaluating the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Transportation Program in Socially Vulnerable Communities in San Diego County, California (06-011), Metabolism of Cities Living Lab SDSU 4 SDGs Leave No One Behind Exhibition, February 21, 2023, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, Exhibition Installation, Wall 3. Virtual Exhibition: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=6NhNseqHsTM

Final Dataset

The final datasets for this project is located in the Safe-D Collection on the VTTI Dataverse; DOI: 10.15787/VTT1/QCNL0Z

Research Investigators (PI*)

Gabriela Fernandez (SDSU)*
Arash Jahangiri (SDSU)*
Sahar Ghanipoor-Machiani (SDSU)
Ming-Hsiang Tsou (SDSU)
Christian Mejia (SDSU)
Bita Etaati (SDSU)
Andrick Mercado (SDSU)

Project Information

Start Date: 2022-01-15
End Date: 2023-06-15
Status: Completed
Grant Number: 69A3551747115
Total Funding: $376,000
Source Organization: Safe-D National UTC
Project Number: 06-011

Safe-D Theme Areas

Big Data Analytics
Transportation as a Service

Safe-D Application Areas

Risk Assessment
Planning for Safety
Vulnerable Users

More Information

UTC Project Information Form

Sponsor Organization

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
University Transportation Centers Program
Department of Transportation
Washington, DC 20590 United States

Performing Organization

San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr
San Diego, CA 92182
USA