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Member Research and Reports

Maryland: Study Analyzes How Race, Gender and Class Affect Whether Youth Use “Active Transportation”

Concerns about safety can discourage youth of color, particularly girls and those in low-income neighborhoods, from engaging in “active transportation,” like walking, biking or taking public transportation, according to new research from the University of Maryland School of Public Health published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Because minority and low-income adolescents are more likely to be obese and less likely to be physically active than their white, wealthier counterparts, active transportation provides an important exercise opportunity for these youth, the researchers note.

The Physical Environment and Active Transportation (PEAT) Study focused on experiences of oppression and willingness to engage in active transportation among adolescents living within two-miles of the Washington, DC Metro Silver Line in Fairfax County, VA.

The research was led by Dr. Jennifer Roberts, an assistant professor of kinesiology, and included Dr. Craig Fryer, an associate professor of behavioral and community health.

Researchers conducted focus groups with 12- to 15-year-olds during summer 2016 in order to gauge their attitudes toward active transportation.  To consider the interplay between race, gender and class, dialogue and responses were analyzed through an intersectional framework.

Many participants, especially girls or residents of low-income areas, were dissuaded from active transportation because they or their parents worried about potential crime or felt unwelcome or as a potential target due to their race.

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