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Journal Article


Vitale M, Millward H, Spinney J. Case Stud. Transp. Policy 2019; 7(1): 64-72.


(Copyright © 2019, World Conference on Transport Research Society, Publisher Elsevier Publishing)






Mode choices for school travel are important to children's health. School size and siting impose constraints on mode choices, and these factors vary considerably along the rural-urban continuum. Using the Halifax Regional School Board, Nova Scotia, as a case study, this research examines the effects of elementary school size and siting on mode choices and school busing. Data for 96 elementary schools in the school district are examined for statistical relationships between school and catchment area size, rural-urban location, and reliance on school busing. To estimate potential walkability, a mean Walk Score® was calculated for a 2.4-km pedestrian zone around each school, which represents the school board's courtesy busing threshold. Mode choices from "hands-up" tallies at four schools were employed to calibrate the use of automobile and walking modes. In inner-city areas, pedestrian zones typically covered almost 90% of the school catchment area, and their walkability was moderately high. However, in suburban, commuter belt, and rural zones, much less area fell within the pedestrian zone, and walkability declined considerably. The proportion of students who walked or cycled for school travel were 40% (inner-city), 37% (suburbs), and only 5% in the commuter belt and rural zones. On the other hand, more than 80% of children who lived in the commuter belt and rural zones rode the bus, compared with 30% in the suburbs and only 6% in the inner-city areas. In both the suburban and inner-city schools, a large proportion of students were chauffeured by car.

FINDINGS suggest that post-1960 school planning for rural areas around Halifax has paid insufficient attention to the potential for children to walk or bike to school. Consequently, school consolidation and busing practices should be reconsidered in light of their negative impacts on the health and well-being of suburban and rural school children.

Keywords: SR2S

Language: en


Active school travel; Rural–urban variations; School busing; Walkability


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