Keeping kids safe for active travel to school: A mixed method examination of school policies and practices and children's school travel behaviour.
Travel behaviour & society 2020 ; 21: 57-68.
PubMed ID : 33014711
PMCID : PMC7473447
Active school travel contributes to children's physical, mental and social wellbeing. The prevalence of children's active school travel, however, has been declining in many developed countries. Gaining insights into school culture and environments in relation to school travel behaviour is crucial to inform interventions. Using a multiphase mixed methods approach, this study aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of how school policies and practices supported or inhibited school travel behaviour in Auckland, New Zealand. Data were drawn from Neighbourhoods for Active Kids, a cross-sectional study of 1085 children aged 8-13 years between February 2015 and December 2016. School representatives were interviewed regarding their policies and practices related to school travel behaviour and traffic around school, and the data were analysed thematically. An overarching theme, sub-themes and categories were contextualised for quantitative modelling using objectively measured school variables (school socioeconomic status, active school travel programme, built environments around school). Mixed effects multinomial logistic regression models were employed to determine associations between school travel mode and objectively measured child (sociodemographic characteristics, traffic safety perceptions) and school variables. Safety was the core concept of school travel policies, procedures and programmes. Significant differences in child variables, school socioeconomic status, and cycle lanes and traffic lights around school were found between children who actively travelled or used public transport to school and those driven to school. Overall, this study demonstrated the important role of school policy and procedures and the potential application of an intersectoral approach for interventions to support changes in school travel behaviour.