Geography & Environment Publications

Route-Based Analysis to Capture the Environmental Influences on a Child's Mode of Travel between Home and School

Document Type


Publication Date







Annals of the Association of American Geographers

First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier

doi: 10.1080/00045608.2011.627059


This study examined environmental influences on a child's mode of travel between home and school. Grade 7 and 8 students (n = 614) from twenty-one schools throughout London, Ontario, participated in a school-based travel mode survey. Geographic information systems (GIS) were employed to examine environmental characteristics of the child's mode of travel between home and school measured at the scale of the likely travel route. Logistic regression was used to assess what factors influence both the to- and from-school trip. Over 62 percent of students living within 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) of school walked or biked to school and 72 percent walked or biked home from school. Actively commuting to school was positively associated with shorter trips, with distance being the most important correlate. Boys were significantly more likely to use active travel modes than girls. Higher traffic volume along the route was negatively related to rates of active travel and children from higher income neighborhoods were less likely to actively travel than children from lower income neighborhoods. In terms of environmental characteristics, the presence of street trees was positively associated and higher residential densities and mixed land uses were negatively associated with active travel to school. For the journey home, crossing major streets and increased intersection density were negatively associated with active travel. The findings of this research give evidence that active travel is associated with the environmental characteristics of walking routes. This information should be considered for urban planning and school planning purposes to improve children's walking environments.

Find in your library