Navigation Links
Why don't kids walk to school anymore?
Date:3/26/2008

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Maybe when we were their age, we walked five miles to school, rain or shine. So why don't most children today walk or bike to school?

It's not necessarily because they're spoiled, lazy or over scheduled. According to a University of Michigan researcher, concerns about safety are the main reason that less than 13 percent of U.S. children walked or biked to school in 2004, compared to more than 50 percent who did so in 1969.

"These concerns are strongly linked to the kind of physical environment children navigate between home and school," said Byoung-Suk Kweon, an environmental and landscape architecture researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR).

"The greener the route, the more likely it is that children will walk and bike."

Using Geographic Information System (GIS) data combined with a survey of 186 parents of 5th through 8th grade students, Kweon found that parents were most concerned about the speed and volume of traffic students would encounter en route to school; the possibility of crime; and the weather.

"In Texas, where we lived when I conducted this study, our sons did not walk to school because we lived too far away," said Kweon, who is also affiliated with the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment. In general, she found, children who walk to school usually live less than three-quarters of a mile away.

"In Ann Arbor, they do walk to school. We have a 27 degree rule. If it's colder than that, we drive them; if it's warmer than that, they walk."

In her study, Kweon found that children use sidewalks, not bike lanes, when they ride to school. "Parents may be concerned about the safety of bike lanes, and they may be telling their children to ride on the sidewalk because it's safer," she said. "We may need to re-think how to place bike lanes in school walk zones."

To learn more about how the physical environment influences parents' perceptions of safety and their willingness to allow their children walk or bike to school, Kweon and colleagues conducted a series of laboratory-based simulation studies, testing six different pedestrian environments.

"It's very important for parents that there be a separation or buffer between traffic and the sidewalk," she said. "They are much more willing to let their children walk when this buffer is at least eight feet wide, and when there are also trees in this area." Trees not only provide shade, but also serve as a sort of vertical barrier between sidewalk and street.

Although improving the physical environment reduces parents' concerns for their children's safety, Kweon found that the social environment---especially the likelihood of crime---strongly affects parental perceptions of safety as well. Kweon hopes to conduct a related study in Detroit to examine how the intersection of social and physical factors influences the likelihood that children will walk to school.

By identifying environmental elements conducive to walking and biking to school, Kweon hopes her research may help improve children's physical health and reduce the incidence of childhood obesity, especially prevalent among minority children.

"Walking or biking to school helps children develop an early habit of engaging in physical activity, and that can lead to a healthier and more active and healthier population," she said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Diane Swanbrow
swanbrow@umich.edu
734-647-9069
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Iowa middle school wins IEEE-USA National Engineering Award
2. Cummings School receives Rockefeller Foundation grant
3. U. Mass Medical School and Carnegie announce licensing agreements with Oxford BioMedica
4. CWRU School of Medicine has evidence vaccine against malaria will reduce disease
5. Kids eat more fruits, vegetables when schools offer salad bar
6. Asthma link to post-traumatic stress disorder, says Mailman School of Public Health study
7. UMass Medical School researchers receive $8.5M grant award to fight AIDS
8. Folic acid lowers blood arsenic levels, according to Mailman School of Public Health study
9. UGA Odum School of Ecology professor receives grant to study West Nile Virus in NYC
10. Rutgers high school outreach gets $3 million boost from NSF
11. Childhood obesity indicates greater risk of school absenteeism, Penn study reveals
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/28/2016)... FRANCISCO and BANGALORE, India , ... of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... provider, today announced a global partnership that will ... way to use mobile banking and payment services. ... is a key innovation area for financial services, but it ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... , UAE, April 20, 2016 ... implemented as a compact web-based "all-in-one" system solution for ... biometric fingerprint reader or the door interface with integration ... modern access control systems. The minimal dimensions of the ... readers into the building installations offer considerable freedom of ...
(Date:4/13/2016)...  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients in ... standard in telehealth thanks to a new partnership with ... IMPOWER patients can routinely track key health measurements, such ... and, when they opt in, share them with IMPOWER ... local retail location at no cost. By leveraging this ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... Kinder ... several positive developments that position the Company for the future. Kinder Scientific ... Craig F. Kinghorn has been appointed Chairman of the Board, Curtis D. Kinghorn ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... ... recently became double board-certified in surgery and surgery of the hand by the ... is no stranger to going above and beyond in his pursuit of providing ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... Biohaven Pharmaceutical ... (FDA) has granted the company’s orphan drug designation request covering BHV-4157 for the ... granted by the FDA. , Spinocerebellar ataxia is a rare, debilitating neurodegenerative ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... ... May 23, 2016 , ... The need for blood donations in South Texas and ... the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, blood donations are on the decline. In fact, ... they are down 21 percent in South Texas in the last four years alone. , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: