Correlates of Active School Transportation During the COVID-19 Pandemic Among Canadian 7- to 12-Year-Olds: A National Study

Click name to view affiliation

Richard Larouche Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada

Search for other papers by Richard Larouche in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8850-6895 *
,
Mathieu Bélanger Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, NB, Canada

Search for other papers by Mathieu Bélanger in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9446-6538
,
Mariana Brussoni Human Early Learning Partnership, Department of Pediatrics, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia; British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Search for other papers by Mariana Brussoni in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1495-816X
,
Guy Faulkner School of Kinesiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Search for other papers by Guy Faulkner in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8898-2536
,
Katie Gunnell Department of Psychology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Search for other papers by Katie Gunnell in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8729-6486
, and
Mark S. Tremblay Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, CHEO Research Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Search for other papers by Mark S. Tremblay in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8307-3568
Restricted access

Background: Active school transportation (AST) is an important source of physical activity for children and a potentially important climate change mitigation strategy. However, few studies have examined factors associated with AST in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: We used baseline data from a longitudinal survey to investigate correlates of AST during the second wave of COVID-19 (December 2020). We collected survey data from 2291 parents of 7- to 12-year-olds across Canada and linked this information with data on neighborhood walkability and weather from national databases. We assessed potential correlates representing multiple levels of influence of the social–ecological model. We used gender-stratified binary logistic regression models to determine the correlates of children’s travel mode to/from school (dichotomized as active vs motorized), while controlling for household income. We examined the correlates of travel mode for both the morning and afternoon trips. Results: Consistent correlates of AST among Canadian children during the COVID-19 pandemic included greater independent mobility, warmer outdoor temperature, having a parent who actively commuted to work or school, living in a household owning fewer vehicles, and living in a more walkable neighborhood. These findings were largely consistent between boys and girls and between morning and afternoon school trips. Conclusions: Policymakers, urban planners, and public health workers aiming to promote AST should focus on these correlates while ensuring that neighborhoods are safe for children. Future research should monitor the prevalence and correlates of AST as COVID-19 restrictions are removed.

  • Collapse
  • Expand
  • 1.

    Larouche R, Saunders TJ, Faulkner GEJ, Colley R, Tremblay M. Associations between active school transport and physical activity, body composition, and cardiovascular fitness: a systematic review of 68 studies. J Phys Act Health. 2014;11(1):206227. PubMed ID: 23250273 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 2.

    Andersen LB, Wedderkopp N, Kristensen P, et al. Cycling to school and cardiovascular risk factors: a longitudinal study. J Phys Act Health. 2011;8(8):10251033. PubMed ID: 22039135 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3.

    Larouche R, Faulkner GE, Fortier M, Tremblay MS. Active transportation and adolescents’ health: the Canadian Health Measures Survey. Am J Prev Med. 2014;46(5):507515. PubMed ID: 24745641 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4.

    Faulkner GE, Richichi V, Buliung RN, Fusco C, Moola F. “What’s quickest and easiest?” Parental decision making about school trip mode. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2010;7(1):62. PubMed ID: 20691063 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5.

    Gardner B, Abraham C. Psychological correlates of car use: a meta-analysis. Transp Res Pt F. 2008;11(4):300311. doi:

  • 6.

    Aarts H, Verplanken B, Van Knippenberg A. Predicting behavior from actions in the past: repeated decision making or a matter of habit? J Appl Soc Psychol. 1998;28(15):13551374. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7.

    Hamer M, Chida Y. Active commuting and cardiovascular risk: a meta-analytic review. Prev Med. 2008;46(1):913. PubMed ID: 17475317 doi:

  • 8.

    Celis-Morales CA, Lyall DM, Welsh P, et al. Association between active commuting and incident cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2017;357:j1456. PubMed ID: 28424154 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 9.

    Woodcock J, Edwards P, Tonne C, et al. Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: urban land transport. Lancet. 2009;374(9705):19301943. PubMed ID: 19942277 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 10.

    Patz JA, Frumkin H, Holloway T, Vimont DJ, Haines A. Climate change: challenges and opportunities for global health. JAMA. 2014;312(15):15651580. PubMed ID: 25244362 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11.

    Tranter P, Tolley R. Slow Cities: Conquering Our Speed Addiction for Health and Sustainability. Elsevier; 2020.

  • 12.

    Brand C, Götschi T, Dons E, et al. The climate change mitigation impacts of active travel: evidence from a longitudinal panel study in seven European cities. Glob Environ Change. 2021;67:102224. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 13.

    Larouche R. Children’s Active Transportation. Elsevier; 2018.

  • 14.

    McDonald NC, Brown AL, Marchetti LM, Pedroso MS. US school travel, 2009: an assessment of trends. Am J Prev Med. 2011;41(2):146151. PubMed ID: 21767721 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 15.

    Yang Y, Hong X, Gurney JG, Wang Y. Active travel to and from school among school-age children during 1997–2011 and associated factors in China. J Phys Act Health. 2017;14(9):684691. PubMed ID: 28513321 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16.

    Gaster S. Urban children’s access to their neighborhood: changes over three generations. Environ Behav. 1991;23(1):7085. doi:

  • 17.

    Hillman M, Adams J, Whitelegg J. One False Move... A Study of Children’s Independent Mobility. Policy Studies Institute; 1990.

  • 18.

    Shaw B, Fagan-Watson B, Frauendienst B, Redecker A, Jones T, Hillman M. Children’s Independent Mobility: A Comparative Study in England and Germany (1971–2010). Policy Studies Institute; 2013.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 19.

    Aranda-Balboa MJ, Huertas-Delgado FJ, Herrador-Colmenero M, Cardon G, Chillón P. Parental barriers to active transport to school: a systematic review. Int J Public Health. 2020;65(1):8798. PubMed ID: 31728600 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 20.

    Ku DG, Um JS, Byon YJ, Kim JY, Lee SJ. Changes in passengers’ travel behavior due to COVID-19. Sustainability. 2021;13(14):7974. doi:

  • 21.

    Savage K, Turcotte M. Commuting to Work During COVID-19. Statistics Canada. https://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2020/statcan/45-28/CS45-28-1-2020-62-eng.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 22.

    Zhang J, Hayashi Y, Frank LD. COVID-19 and transport: findings from a world-wide expert survey. Transport Policy. 2021;103:6885. PubMed ID: 33519127 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 23.

    Fischer J, Winters M. COVID-19 street reallocation in mid-sized Canadian cities: socio-spatial equity patterns. Can J Public Health. 2021;112(3):376390. PubMed ID: 33650060 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 24.

    Hassen N. Leveraging built environment interventions to equitably promote health during and after COVID-19 in Toronto, Canada. Health Promot Int. 2022;37(2):daab128. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 25.

    Riazi NA, Wunderlich K, Gierc M, et al. “You can’t go to the park, you can’t go here, you can’t go there”: exploring parental experiences of COVID-19 and its impact on their children’s movement behaviours. Children. 2021;8(3):219. PubMed ID: 33809221 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 26.

    de Lannoy L, Rhodes RE, Moore SA, Faulkner G, Tremblay MS. Regional differences in access to the outdoors and outdoor play of Canadian children and youth during the COVID-19 outbreak. Can J Public Health. 2020;111(6):988994. PubMed ID: 33057923 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 27.

    Nguyen MH, Pojani D, Nguyen TC, Ha TT. The impact of Covid-19 on children’s active travel to school in Vietnam. J Transp Geogr. 2021;96:103191. PubMed ID: 34539100 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 28.

    Larouche R, Moore SA, Bélanger M, et al. Parent perceived changes in active transportation and independent mobility among Canadian children in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic: results from two national surveys. Children Youth Environ. 2022;32(3):2552. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 29.

    Sallis JF, Cervero RB, Ascher W, Henderson KA, Kraft MK, Kerr J. An ecological approach to creating active living communities. Annu Rev Public Health. 2006;27(1):297322. PubMed ID: 16533119 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 30.

    Wong BYM, Faulkner G, Buliung R, Irving H. Mode shifting in school travel mode: examining the prevalence and correlates of active school transport in Ontario, Canada. BMC Public Health. 2011;11(1):618. PubMed ID: 21812976 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 31.

    Göritz AS.Using online panels in psychological research. In: Joinson A, McKenna K, Postmes T, Reips U, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Internet Psychology. Oxford University Press; 2007:473486.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 32.

    Gropp KM, Pickett W, Janssen I. Multi-level examination of correlates of active transportation to school among youth living within 1 mile of their school. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012;9(1):124. PubMed ID: 23067247 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 33.

    Larouche R, Eryuzlu S, Livock H, et al. Test–retest reliability and convergent validity of measures of children’s travel behaviours and independent mobility. J Transp Health. 2017;6:105118. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 34.

    Sampson RJ, Raudenbush SW, Earls F. Neighborhoods and violent crime: a multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science. 1997;277(5328):918924. PubMed ID: 9252316 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 35.

    Rosenberg D, Ding D, Sallis JF, et al. Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale for Youth (NEWS-Y): reliability and relationship with physical activity. Prev Med. 2009;49(2–3):213218. PubMed ID: 19632263 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 36.

    Katzmarzyk PT, Barreira TV, Broyles ST, et al. The international study of childhood obesity, lifestyle and the environment (ISCOLE): design and methods. BMC Public Health. 2013;13(1):900. PubMed ID: 24079373 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 37.

    Herrmann T, Gleckner W, Wasfi RA, Thierry B, Kestens Y, Ross NA. A pan-Canadian measure of active living environments using open data. Health Rep. 2019;30(5):1625.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 38.

    Moore SA, Faulkner G, Rhodes RE, et al. Impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak on movement and play behaviours of Canadian children and youth: a national survey. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2020;17(1):85. PubMed ID: 32631350 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 39.

    Mitra R, Moore SA, Gillespie, M, et al. Healthy movement behaviours in children and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic: exploring the role of the neighbourhood environment. Health Place. 2020;65:102418. PubMed ID: 32871499 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 40.

    Caldwell HA, Faulkner G, Tremblay MS, et al. Regional differences in movement behaviours of children and youth during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada: follow-up from a national study. Can J Public Health. 2022;113(4):535546. PubMed ID: 35507303 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 41.

    Cohen J. Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences. 2nd ed. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers; 1988.

  • 42.

    Gray CE, Larouche R, Barnes JD, et al. Are we driving our kids to unhealthy habits? Results of the Active Healthy Kids Canada 2013 report card on physical activity for children and youth. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11(6):60096020. PubMed ID: 24905246 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 43.

    ParticipACTION. Canadian Kids Need to Move More to Boost Their Brain Health. The ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. ParticipACTION; 2018.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 44.

    Page AS, Cooper AR, Griew P, Jago R. Independent mobility, perceptions of the built environment and children’s participation in play, active travel and structured exercise and sport: the PEACH Project. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2010;7(1):17. PubMed ID: 20170504 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 45.

    Larouche R, Barnes JD, Blanchette S, et al. Relationships among children’s independent mobility, active transportation, and physical activity: a multisite cross-sectional study. Pediatr Exerc Sci. 2020;32(4):189196. PubMed ID: 32570211 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 46.

    Larouche R, Bélanger M, Brussoni M, Faulkner G, Gunnell K, Tremblay MS. Children’s right to roam in their neighbourhood during the COVID-19 pandemic: a national survey of correlates of children’s independent mobility. Health Place. 2023;81:103019. PubMed ID: 36996593 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 47.

    Riazi NA, Wunderlich K, Yun L, Paterson DC, Faulkner G. Social-ecological correlates of children’s independent mobility: a systematic review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(3):1604. PubMed ID: 35162626 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 48.

    Malone K. The bubble‐wrap generation: children growing up in walled gardens. Environ Educ Res. 2007;13(4):513527. doi:

  • 49.

    Pabayo R, Gauvin L, Barnett TA. Longitudinal changes in active transportation to school in Canadian youth aged 6 through 16 years. Pediatrics. 2011;128(2):e404e413. PubMed ID: 21727104 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 50.

    Fulton JE, Shisler JL, Yore MM, Caspersen CJ. Active transportation to school: findings from a national survey. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2005;76(3):352357. PubMed ID: 16270712

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 51.

    Kwon S, Mason M, Wang-Schweig M, Morrissey J, Bartell T, Kandula NR. The association between adolescent active commuting to school and parent walking behavior: the FLASHE study. Am J Health Promot. 2022;36(8):12651274. PubMed ID: 35487877 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 52.

    Van Kann DHH, Kremers SPJ, de Vries SI, de Vries NK, Jansen MWJ. Parental active transportation routines (PATRns) as a moderator of the association between neighborhood characteristics and parental influences and active school transportation. Environ Behav. 2016;48(7):946965. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 53.

    McDonald NC, Aalborg AE. Why parents drive children to school: implications for safe routes to school programs. J Am Plan Assoc. 2009;75(3):331342. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 54.

    Panter J, Corder K, Griffin SJ, Jones AP, van Sluijs EM. Individual, socio-cultural and environmental predictors of uptake and maintenance of active commuting in children: longitudinal results from the SPEEDY study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2013;10(1):83. PubMed ID: 23803180 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 55.

    Larsen K, Larouche R, Buliung RN, Faulkner GE. A matched pairs approach to assessing parental perceptions and preferences for mode of travel to school. J Transp Health. 2018;11:5663. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 56.

    McDonald NC. Critical factors for active transportation to school among low-income and minority students: evidence from the 2001 National Household Travel Survey. Am J Prev Med. 2008;34(4):341344. PubMed ID: 18374248 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 57.

    DiGuiseppi C, Roberts I, Li L, Allen, D. Determinants of car travel on daily journeys to school: cross sectional survey of primary school children. BMJ. 1998;316(7142):14261428. PubMed ID: 9572753 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 58.

    Chaufan C, Yeh J, Ross L, Fox P. You can’t walk or bike yourself out of the health effects of poverty: active school transport, child obesity, and blind spots in the public health literature. Critical Public Health. 2015;25(1):3247. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 59.

    Pabayo RA, Gauvin L, Barnett TA, Morency P, Nikiéma B, Séguin L. Understanding the determinants of active transportation to school among children: evidence of environmental injustice from the Quebec longitudinal study of child development. Health Place. 2012:18(2):163171. PubMed ID: 21937255 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 60.

    First Call Child and Youth Advocacy Society. 2022 BC Child Poverty Report Card. First Call; 2023.

  • 61.

    Aarts MJ, Mathijssen JJ, van Oers JA, Schuit AJ. Associations between environmental characteristics and active commuting to school among children: a cross-sectional study. Int J Behav Med. 2013;20(4):538555. PubMed ID: 23076641 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 62.

    McDonald NC, Deakin E, Aalborg AE. Influence of the social environment on children’s school travel. Prev Med. 2010;50(suppl 1):S65S68. PubMed ID: 19796654 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 63.

    Muthuri SK, Wachira LJM, Onywera VO, Tremblay MS. Associations between parental perceptions of the neighborhood environment and childhood physical activity: results from ISCOLE-Kenya. J Phys Act Health. 2016;13(3):333343. PubMed ID: 26285040 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 64.

    Hampshire K, Porter G, Mashiri M, et al. Proposing love on the way to school: mobility, sexuality and youth transitions in South Africa. Cult Health Sex. 2011;13(2):217231. PubMed ID: 20972913 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 65.

    McMillan T, Day K, Boarnet M, et al. Johnny walks to school—Does Jane? Sex differences in children’s active travel to school. Child Youth Environ. 2006;16(1):7589. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 66.

    Colley RC, Christidis T, Michaud I, Tjepkema M, Ross NA. The association between walkable neighbourhoods and physical activity across the lifespan. Health Rep. 2019;30(9):314. PubMed ID: 31532538

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 67.

    Sallis JF, Cerin E, Conway TL, et al. Physical activity in relation to urban environments in 14 cities worldwide: a cross-sectional study. Lancet. 2016;387(10034):22072217. PubMed ID: 27045735 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 68.

    Giles-Corti B, Vernez-Moudon A, Reis R, et al. City planning and population health: a global challenge. Lancet. 2016;388(10062):29122924. PubMed ID: 27671668 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 69.

    McGrath LJ, Hopkins WG, Hinckson EA. Associations of objectively measured built-environment attributes with youth moderate–vigorous physical activity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2015;45(6):841865. PubMed ID: 25618013 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 70.

    Giles-Corti B, Wood G, Pikora T, et al. School site and the potential to walk to school: the impact of street connectivity and traffic exposure in school neighborhoods. Health Place. 2011;17(2):545550. PubMed ID: 21237697 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 71.

    Janssen I, King N. Walkable school neighborhoods are not playable neighborhoods. Health Place. 2015;35:6669. PubMed ID: 26248291 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 72.

    Tranter P. Taming traffic to encourage children’s active transportation. In: Larouche, R, ed. Children’s Active Transportation. Elsevier. 2018;229242.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 73.

    Helbich M, van Emmichoven MJZ, Dijst MJ, Kwan MP, Pierik FH, de Vries SI. Natural and built environmental exposures on children’s active school travel: a Dutch global positioning system-based cross-sectional study. Health Place. 2016;39:101109. PubMed ID: 27010106 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 74.

    Mitra R, Faulkner, G. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing: climate, weather and active school transportation in Toronto, Canada. Can J Public Health. 2012;103(suppl 3):S35S41. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 75.

    Kallio J, Turpeinen S, Hakonen H, Tammelin T. Active commuting to school in Finland, the potential for physical activity increase in different seasons. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2016;75(1):33319. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 76.

    Larouche R, Gunnell K, Bélanger M. Seasonal variations and changes in school travel mode from childhood to late adolescence: a prospective study in New Brunswick, Canada. J Transp Health. 2019;12(3):371378. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 77.

    Blanchette S, Larouche R, Tremblay MS, Faulkner G, Riazi NA, Trudeau F. Influence of weather conditions on children’s school travel mode and physical activity in 3 diverse regions of Canada. Appl Physiol Nutr Metabol. 2021;46(6):552560. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 677 677 64
Full Text Views 47 47 1
PDF Downloads 58 58 1