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Examining the transport to school patterns of New Zealand  adolescents by home-to-school distance and settlement types

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posted on 2023-05-12, 11:23 authored by Sandra MandicSandra Mandic, Enrique García BengoecheaEnrique García Bengoechea, Debbie Hopkins, Kirsten Coppell, Melody Smith, Antoni Moore, Michael Keall, Christina Ergler, Susan Sandretto, Gordon Wilson, Gavin Kidd, Charlotte Flaherty, Jennifer S. Mindell, Janet Stephenson, Kimberley King, John C. Spence

Background: Scholarship on active transport to school has largely focused on children, (large) urban areas, the umbrella term of “active transport” which considered walking and cycling together and without taking into account walking and/or cycling distance. This research examined adolescents’ patterns of transport to school in diverse settlement types and in relation to home-to-school distance in the Otago region of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Methods: Patterns of transport to school by home-to-school distance, and across school locations, are described for a sample of 2,403 adolescents (age: 15.1 ± 1.4 years; 55% females) attending 23 out of 27 schools in large urban areas (n = 1,309; 11 schools), medium urban areas (n = 265; three schools), small urban areas (n = 652; four schools) and rural settings (n = 177; five schools). Empirical data were collected through an online survey, in which adolescents reported ociodemographic characteristics, travel to school, and perceptions of walking and cycling. Home-to-school distance was measured on the shortest route determined using Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based network analysis. 

Results: Transport to school patterns differed significantly by home-to-school distance and across settlement types. Profiles of different transport user groups showed significant variability in sociodemographic characteristics, family factors, average distance to school, self-reported physical activity, and perceived health.

Conclusions: Initiatives to promote active transport and reduce reliance on car transport to school, whether to improve health and the environment or to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, need to pay closer attention to the settlement types, distance to school, and characteristics of different transport user modes.



Journal of Transport & Health, 2023, 30, 101585



Other Funding information

The BEATS Study was supported by the Health Research Council of New Zealand Emerging Researcher First Grant (14/565), National Heart Foundation of New Zealand (1602 and 1615), Lottery Health Research Grant (Applic 341129), University of Otago Research Grant (UORG 2014), Dunedin City Council and the University of Otago internal grants. The BEATS Rural Study was supported by the University of Otago Research Grant (UORG 2018) and Otago Energy Research Centre Seed Grant. Melody Smith was supported by a Health Research Council of New Zealand Sir Charles Hercus Research Fellowship (17/013).

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