Children's travel to school—the interaction of individual, neighbourhood and school factors

EASTON, Sue and FERRARI, Edward (2015). Children's travel to school—the interaction of individual, neighbourhood and school factors. Transport Policy, 44, 9-18.

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The increase in average distance from home to secondary school over recent decades has been accompanied by a significant growth in the proportion of pupils travelling to school by motorized means as opposed to walking or cycling. More recently this switch in travel mode has received considerable attention as declining levels of physical activity, growing car dependence and the childhood obesity “crisis” have pushed concerns about the health of future generations up the public health agenda, particularly in the U.S., but also in the UK and Europe. This has led to a proliferation of international studies researching a variety of individual, school and spatial characteristics associated with children's active travel to school which has been targeted by some governments as a potential silver bullet to reverse the trend. However, to date national pupil census data, which comprises annual data on all English pupils, including a mode of travel to school variable, has been under-utilised in the analysis of how pupils commute to school. Furthermore, methodologically, the grouped nature of the data with pupils clustered within both schools and residential neighbourhoods has often been ignored - an omission which can have considerable consequences for the statistical estimation of the model. The research presented here seeks to address both of these points by analysing pupil census data on all 26,709 secondary pupils (aged 11-16) who attended schools in Sheffield, UK during the 2009-10. Individual pupil data is grouped within school, and neighbourhood, within a cross-classified multilevel model of active versus motorised modes of commuting to school. The results support the findings of other research that distance to school is key, but find that sociospatial clustering within neighbourhoods and schools are also critical. A further finding is that distance to school varies significantly by ethnicity, with white British pupils travelling the shortest distance of all ethnic groups. The implications of these findings for education and transport policy are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: travel to school, active transport, mode of travel, multilevel model, sociospatial, secondary, pupils, motorised transport
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research
Identification Number:
Page Range: 9-18
Depositing User: Jill Hazard
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2017 13:45
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 11:17

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