Active school travel in Fleetwood, Surrey, BC, Canada

Author/s: Jordan Magtoto

Creation date: 2016-07-26

Contact info: jordan.a.w.magtoto@gmail.com

Senior supervisor: Peter V. Hall

Keywords: Active School Travel; AST; School Travel Planning; STP; Fleetwood, Surrey

Geographic focus: Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

Research question/s: How do family demographics and caregiver perceptionsinfluence active school travel in Fleetwood, Surrey?

Significance

Metro Vancouver projects that the City of Surrey will accommodate 28% of the region’s population growth between 2014 and 2040. This means that Surrey’s student population will also grow. Active School Travel describes all modes of travel to and/or from school by students that involve the use of human powered momentum, such as cycling, skating, scooting, walking, or running. Research to identify the variables that predict active school travel can help the City of Surrey and other suburban communities design land use and planning policies that encourage more students to travel actively to and from school, thereby reducing vehicle emissions. Also, municipal governments around the world recognize that active school travel by elementary school students is declining as childhood obesity is increasing. Research suggests that students who actively travel to school are healthier and happier.

Findings

Through surveys distributed to five Fleetwood elementary schools and the use of a binomial logistics regression model, the author found that accompaniment, distance from home to school, language spoken at home and perceptions of neighbourhood safety had significant effects on active school travel patterns. Rates of active school travel among students at these five Fleetwood elementary schools were high compared to reported rates elsewhere in Canada and internationally, but the City’s school travel planning interventions did not increase active travel. The author argues that this is because the school travel planning methodology doesn’t address caregivers’ attitudes regarding factors such as children’s readiness for active school travel in relation to their age and gender, as well as attitudes about neighbourhood safety. Coordination among the provincial government, school board, and the City of Surrey’s engineering and community planning departments on issues such as the location of new schools may increase active school travel.