Understanding the determinants of active transportation to school among children: evidence of environmental injustice from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development.
ISSUE ADDRESSED The aims of this study were to examine route to school, distance and mode of transport for primary school-aged children in Brisbane, and to quantify the exposure to risk of pedestrian injury by the sociodemographic characteristics of the children. METHODS This study was part of a longitudinal cohort study of 871 Brisbane families with children aged 4-12 years that aimed to quantify the relationship between socio-economic status and childhood injury. Mode of transport to school and socio-demographic characteristics of children were obtained from a questionnaire completed at baseline by each child's primary carer. Route to school and distance travelled were recorded at the baseline interview on scaled geographical maps. RESULTS Being driven by car was the predominant mode of transport to school (75%) and from school (72%), with the prevalence decreasing with the age of the child. The mean distance travelled to school was 3.8 kilometres (km), with 50% of children travelling between 1.25 km and 4.5 km. For children who walked to school, exposure to pedestrian injury risk was similar by gender, increased with age and was inversely related to household income and the primary carer's education level. CONCLUSION The majority of children aged 5-12 live close to school but only a small minority of students walk the distance. Walking to school was least common in children from higher socio-economic backgrounds.