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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 104, Issue 7, pp e487–e489 | Cite as

Too Far to Walk or Bike?

  • Richard LaroucheEmail author
  • Joel Barnes
  • Mark S. Tremblay
Commentary

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.

Key words

Transportation child adolescent schools walking exercise 

Résumé

Seulement 25–35% des enfants et adolescents canadiens font régulièrement du transport actif (TA; soit l’utilisation de modes de transport non-motorisés comme la marche et le vélo) pour se rendre à l’école et en revenir. Des études précédentes montrent que la distance entre l’école et la maison est la principale barrière au TA. D’après le modèle socio-écologique, nous décrivons plusieurs stratégies pour surmonter cette barrière. Au niveau individuel, les jeunes pourraient faire du TA pour aller à des destinations situées plus près de leur domicile comme au parc, au magasin, à la résidence de leurs amis ou de membres de leur famille ou au terrain de sport. Les parents qui conduisent leur enfant en voiture pourraient se stationner près de l’école pour effectuer le reste du trajet à pied. Des partenariats pourraient être développés entre les écoles et des institutions avoisinantes qui permettraient que les voitures et autobus utilisent leur stationnement temporairement pour que les jeunes puissent faire une partie du trajet à pied. Le développement d’un réseau de trottoirs bien connectés le long de rues avec une faible circulation automobile pourrait également favoriser le TA. Au niveau politique, les décisions quant à l’emplacement des écoles ont un impact direct sur la distance. Finalement, des campagnes de marketing social pourraient sensibiliser les gens aux stratégies pour incorporer le TA à ses habitudes de vie, et encourager les parents à reconsidérer ce que représente une distance ªmarchable«.

Mots clés

transport enfant adolescent école marche exercice 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Larouche
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Joel Barnes
    • 2
  • Mark S. Tremblay
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research GroupChildren’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research InstituteOttawaCanada
  2. 2.School of Human KineticsUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of PediatricsUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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