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Children’s Travel: Patterns and Influences

  • McDonald, Noreen C.
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    Childhood obesity has doubled in the last thirty years. At the same time, youth travel patterns have changed greatly. In 1969 42% of students walked or biked to school; now 13% do. These two trends have caught the attention of policymakers who have identified walking to school as a way to reintroduce physical activity into children’s lives. However, these policies have been made without much knowledge of children’s travel – an area which has been understudied by transportation researchers. This dissertation seeks to fill this knowledge gap and provide information to design better policies by asking three questions: 1) What are the current patterns of children’s travel? 2) What factors have the greatest influence on children’s mode choice for school trips, particularly for walk trips? and 3) How can land use planning affect walking to school? All analyses identify the spatial distribution of students and schools as the primary reason for the low rates of walking to school. For example, in 1969 45% of elementary school students lived less than a mile from their school; today fewer than 24% live within this distance. The simple fact is that most children do not live within a walkable distance of their schools. When children do live close to school, substantial numbers walk. However, current policies aimed at increasing walking to school focus on improving trip safety rather than changing distance to school. To encourage large numbers of children to walk to school, planners will need to coordinate land use and school planning. Including children’s distance from school as a planning criterion could be an effective way to change community design and encourage walking. This coordination is most necessary in moderate and high density areas where neighborhood schools are a possibility. However, even in low density areas, planners can optimize school and housing placement so that a large portion of students live within a walkable distance of their school.

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    File URL: http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/51c9m01c.pdf;origin=repeccitec
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    Paper provided by University of California Transportation Center in its series University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers with number qt51c9m01c.

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    Date of creation: 01 Jan 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt51c9m01c
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    1. Train,Kenneth E., 2009. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521747387.
    2. Marlon G. Boarnet & Sharon Sarmiento, 1998. "Can Land-use Policy Really Affect Travel Behaviour? A Study of the Link between Non-work Travel and Land-use Characteristics," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 35(7), pages 1155-1169, June.
    3. Douglas Massey, 1996. "The age of extremes: Concentrated affluence and poverty in the twenty-first century," Demography, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 395-412, November.
    4. Boarnet, Marlon G. & Anderson, Craig L. & Day, Kristen & McMillan, Tracy & Alfonzo, Mariela, 2006. "Evaluation of the California Safe Routes to School Legislation: Urban Form Changes and Children's Active Transportation to School," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt3vd3g3jm, University of California Transportation Center.
    5. Andrews, Matthew & Duncombe, William & Yinger, John, 2002. "Revisiting economies of size in American education: are we any closer to a consensus?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 245-262, June.
    6. Rosenbloom, Sandra & Burns, Elizabeth, 1993. "Gender Differences in Commuter Travel in Tucson: Implications for Travel Demand management Programs," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt036776w2, University of California Transportation Center.
    7. Cervero, Robert & Radisch, Carolyn, 1996. "Travel choices in pedestrian versus automobile oriented neighborhoods," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 127-141, July.
    8. David Hensher & April Reyes, 2000. "Trip chaining as a barrier to the propensity to use public transport," Transportation, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 341-361, December.
    9. McMillan, Tracy Elizabeth, 2003. "Walking and Urban Form: Modeling and Testing Parental Decisions about Children’s Travel," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt6j9639b2, University of California Transportation Center.
    10. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
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