Too Far to Walk or Bike?

Richard Larouche, Joel Barnes, Mark S. Tremblay

Abstract


Only 25-35% of Canadian children and youth regularly engage in active transportation (AT; e.g., non-motorized travel modes such as walking and cycling) to/from school. Previous research shows that distance between home and school is the strongest barrier to AT. Based on social ecological theory, we describe several strategies to overcome this barrier. At the individual level, children and youth could engage in AT to/from destinations such as parks, shops, friends’ and family members’ residence, and sport fields which may be located closer than their school. Parents who drive their kids to/from school could drop them within a “walkable” distance so that they can walk for the remainder of the trip. Partnerships could be developed between schools and other nearby institutions that would allow cars and buses to use their parking lot temporarily so that children could do a portion of the school trip on foot. Developing a well-connected network of sidewalks along low traffic streets can also facilitate AT. At the policy level, decisions regarding school location have a direct influence on distance. Finally, social marketing campaigns could raise awareness about strategies to incorporate AT into one’s lifestyle, and encourage parents to reconsider what constitutes a “walkable” distance.

Keywords


Transportation; child; adolescent; schools; walking; exercise

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.104.4122