2010-2011 Summary Annual Report: Evaluation and Research

Highlights

  • Submitted final draft of Considerations for Conducting a Crash-Based Evaluation of the Federal SRTS Program to FHWA.
  • Submitted final draft of National Evaluation Plan for the Federal SRTS Program to FHWA.
  • Submitted final draft of Progress Report for the Federal SRTS Program to FHWA.
  • Released Safe Routes to School and Health: Understanding the Physical Activity Benefits of Walking and Bicycling to School.

The National Center’s research program was established in 2008 with funding from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The evaluation and research function includes work to advance the assessment and understanding of the effect of SRTS implementation at the local, state and national levels. Findings are intended to inform practitioners, decision makers and researchers to further the state of the practice.

Safety Monitoring Program

Understanding safety outcomes is an important element of evaluating the SRTS program. The National Center has been working to determine the feasibility of a crash-based evaluation of the SRTS program and to document potential methods for conducting the study.

Efforts during the reporting period include:

  • Drafted and submitted the final version of Considerations for Conducting a Crash-Based Evaluation of the Federal SRTS Program to FHWA.
  • Received and incorporated final comments in anticipation of August 2011 release to coincide with the Annual State SRTS Coordinators’ Meeting and National SRTS Conference.  

SRTS Strategy Evaluation

Based in part on the recommendations in the GAO report on the SRTS program and the National Center’s aim to support local SRTS programs in setting goals and evaluating them, the National Center launched a project to evaluate SRTS strategies. In January 2010, FHWA requested that the scope of work for this project be rewritten to include a process evaluation and recommendations for an outcome evaluation plan for the Federal SRTS Program so work on this project reflects both of those intents.

  • Safe Routes to School and Health: Understanding the Physical Activity Benefits of Walking and Bicycling to School was released in the fall of 2010, based on key informant interviews with SRTS practitioners and expert panel advice on appropriate evaluation methods.
    • Expert panel included representatives from CDC, U.S. Department of Education, UNC School of Public Health, and UNC Department of City and Regional Planning.
  • Comparative Student Travel Tally Study sought to identify characteristics shared by SRTS programs that increased walking and bicycling compared to similar schools that did not.
    • Conducted interviews with six programs and collected detailed information about intervention activities, duration and frequency.
    • Conducted analysis.
    • Outlined and drafted report for FHWA review.
  • Progress Report
    • Refined details about each State’s SRTS Program based on their edits.
    • Developed summary statistics of state program information.
    • Held working group meeting with FHWA.
    • Conducted preliminary analysis of state program information and state obligation rates.
    • Gathered additional data on state and national program.
    • Conducted analysis of sample of funded projects to identify most common activities.
    • Submitted draft to FHWA and received comments.
    • Began revisions based on FHWA review.
  • National Evaluation Plan
    • Held Roundtable with approximately 30 participants representing research, practice and government from around the country.
    • Worked with Executive Committee to define outcomes of Roundtable.
    • Drafted report and requested review from each Roundtable member.
    • Submitted revised draft report to FHWA.
    • Received comments and began revisions.

Safety Index

The National Center continued development of a process to assist local transportation professionals in prioritizing infrastructure improvements across multiple schools.

  • Following FHWA input, the resource was adapted to integrate recommendations on how to use the FHWA Pedestrian Road Safety Audit to identify specific locations with infrastructure improvement needs.
  • The updated prioritization resource is under development with anticipated release of spring 2012.

Self-evaluation

Each year the National Center conducts a self-evaluation using several sources for obtaining feedback and recommendations. The year three self-evaluation report was submitted in December 2009.The year four report was submitted in the fall of 2011. The year five report will be submitted in the fall of 2012.