'Walking bus' program offers safe, supportive way to build exercise into daily routine

UAB has launched a first-of-its-kind "walking bus" program for adults. Just as with a traditional bus, there are fixed routes with designated stops and pickup times, but passengers will walk instead of ride in a vehicle.

rep walking bus sm“With this program, we hope to increase walking in Birmingham, one of the cities in the U.S. where residents walk the least,” said Adrienne Milner, Ph.D., teaching assistant professor of sociology. She and colleague Assistant Professor Elizabeth Baker, Ph.D., are leading the effort.

“Children’s walking bus programs around the globe have promoted weight loss, academic achievement, pedestrian safety and social cohesion, and we are excited to be the first study in the world to apply this successful concept to adults.”

Milner and Baker’s project concept was among the winners of the inaugural Community Health Innovation Awards given by the One Great Community council of the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science. They also won the Health Disparities Research Award in adult obesity, sponsored by the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center and Weight Watchers, Inc.

The walking bus program is in four Birmingham neighborhoods — UAB, Five Points South, Lakeview and downtown. The goal is to promote safe transportation of community members to and from work, restaurants and entertainment venues while simultaneously promoting health and reducing crime.

“It is our hope that our program will help participants manage their weight, reduce their risk for and manage Type 2 diabetes, lower their blood pressure, and lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, as well as raise awareness of how walkable the community is and where improvements can be made, provide social networking opportunities, decrease crime, reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and minimize transportation costs,” Milner said.

In addition to the public component, preselected participants will join in a study of their progress as they walk. The 51 pilot participants — the majority of whom are UAB employees or students and/or live within a 1.5-mile radius of the UAB campus green, Five Points South or Lakeview — will be regularly monitored for blood pressure, weight and steps per day. The goal is to see how walking affects their health.

Here are the six bus routes and stops:

Get Up and Get Out: Mondays and Wednesdays
7:05 a.m. – 29th Street South and University Boulevard at Lakeview sign
7:20 a.m. – 24th Street South and University Boulevard
7:45 a.m. – 14th Street South and University Boulevard at Blaze the Dragon

Rush Hour Wellness: Mondays and Wednesdays
5:10 p.m. – 14th Street South and University Boulevard at Blaze the Dragon
5:35 p.m. – 24th Street South and University Boulevard
5:50 p.m. – 29th Street South and University Boulevard at Lakeview sign

Lunchtime Park Excursion: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
12:10 p.m. – University Boulevard and 18th Street South at Unity Park
12:15 p.m. – Sixth Avenue South and 18th Street South at UAB Women and Infant’s Center
12:16-12:49 p.m. – Different route each day through Railroad Park
12:50 p.m. – Sixth Avenue South and 18th Street South at Women and Infant’s Center
12:55 p.m. – University Boulevard and 18th Street South at Unity Park

Walking Power Happy Hour: Thursdays
5:15 p.m. – 14th Street South and University Boulevard at Blaze the Dragon
5:30 p.m. – 17th Street South and 11th Avenue South at Medical Towers
5:40 p.m. – Five Points South fountain
5:50 p.m. – 13th Avenue South and Cobb Lane

TGIF Trek: Fridays
5:15 p.m. – 14th Street South and University Boulevard at Blaze the Dragon
5:30 p.m. – Sixth Avenue South and 19th Street South at North Pavilion
5:55 p.m. – Second Avenue North and 23rd Street South

No Gas Grocery Run: Saturdays
10 a.m. – 24th Street South and University Boulevard
10:15 a.m. – 29th Street South and University Boulevard at Lakeview sign
10:30 a.m. – 33rd Street South and Clairmont Avenue South at shopping center
11:15 a.m. – 33rd Street South and Clairmont Avenue South at shopping center
11:30 a.m. – 29th Street South and University Boulevard at Lakeview sign
11:45 a.m. – 24th Street South and University Boulevard

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