Conceptual framework for modelling safe walking and cycling routes to high schools

Active transport (e.g. walking or cycling) to or from school presents an opportunity for adolescents to engage in daily physical activity. Multiple factors influence whether adolescents actively travel to school. Creating safe walking and cycling routes to school is a promising strategy to increase rates of active transport. This article presents a comprehensive conceptual framework for modelling safe walking and cycling routes to school for adolescents. The framework has been developed based on several existing relevant frameworks, including:

a) the ecological models which account for individual, social, environmental and policy factors as well as traffic and personal safety considerations;

b) the Five Es framework of transport planning which includes engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation components; and

c) travel mode choice framework for school travel consisting of urban form, mediating and moderating factors.

The framework identifies built environment features (land use mix, walking/cycling infrastructure, neighbourhood aesthetics, and accessibility to local facilities) and traffic safety factors (traffic volume and speed, safe road crossings, and quality of roadway surface) to consider when modelling safe walking/cycling routes to secondary schools (i.e., high schools for adolescents of ages 13 to 18). Future research should test the framework using real-world data, in different geographical settings and with a combination of tools for assessment of both macro-scale and micro-scale built environment features (such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and MAPS Global tool, respectively). To be effective, modelling and creation of safe routes to schools should be complemented by other interventions including education, enforcement, and encouragement to minimise safety concerns and promote active transport.

Where presented/published

Mohammad Lutfur Rahman, Antoni Moore, Melody Smith, John Lieswyn, Sandra Mandic (2020). A Conceptual Framework for Modelling Safe Walking and Cycling Routes to High Schools. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (in press, manuscript ID 770943).