Beyond Distance: Children's School Travel Mode Choice
Walking is promoted as being a healthy alternative to being driven to and from school. Attitudes and perceptions about the environment are discussed in this comprehensive study assessing modifiable elements and environmental features beyond the actual distance to school.
This study utilized 601 child pairs residing in the same location (but not of the same household) who used different travel modes to school: walking versus being driven in a car. Two rounds of parental surveys (based on the National Center for Safe Route to School survey) were carried out in 2007 and 2010. The mean distance was exactly the same between the “walker” category and the “driver” category at 0.491 miles.
- Environmental perceptifons regarding walkability, safety concerns, and parental attitudes and preferences differed between walkers and drivers.
Parents cited convenience of driving and traffic safety as major reasons for driving their children to school. While environmental improvements to the route may help, the finding here suggests that addressing attitudinal barriers may also be beneficial to shift the mode from driving to walking to school.
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