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Active travel to school

31 January 2017

A new study has highlighted the importance of involving parents in encouraging walking and cycling among children.

Dr Dimitris Potoglou from the School of Geography and Planning has recently examined the factors associated with walking and cycling to schools in Wales, referred to as active travel, and contrasted these findings between primary and secondary school children.

Speaking about the research Dimitris said: “The findings are quite timely given that The Active Travel (Wales) Act, which became a law in November 2013, has recently set the policy framework to improve active travel in Wales. The Act means every Local Authority in Wales has to draw up plans for a network of walking and cycling routes.

"The Act will also require any new road schemes to consider the needs of pedestrians and cyclists at design stage. This study provides the evidence base for local authorities to strategically promote cycling and walking not only around schools, but also around homes.”

The findings of this study also point towards the development of education programmes aiming at increasing parental awareness and creating active-travel supporting environments. From a policy perspective, findings highlight the importance of involving parents in encouraging walking and cycling among children.

The relationship between parents’ active-travel patterns and children and adolescent active commuting to school is also considered, highlighting there is scope for ‘beyond-the-school’ active-travel campaigns and intervention programmes aiming at an overall improvement of family walking and cycling.

The study also suggests that changes and investment on the physical environment influence children and adolescent walking and cycling to school. Changes do not always require large investments. Low-cost physical improvements could involve school crossing patrols, which do not require any structural improvements and appear to be particularly effective in reducing barriers and facilitating safe routes to school.

The study ‘Factors influencing active travel to primary and secondary schools in Wales’ is published in the journal ‘Transportation Planning and Technology’.

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