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Table 1 Characteristics and main findings of the studies reviewed

From: Environmental determinants of active travel in youth: A review and framework for future research

First Author Date Number/Gender/Country Age group (years) Design Environmental attributes (independent variable) Active travel behaviour (outcome variable) Significant associations (p < 0.05) with outcome variable
Alton 2007 [33] 473 M/F UK 9–11 CS, P Child perceptions of traffic, road safety, strangers, provision of recreational facilities, parental concerns about traffic and safety. Child self-reported walking trips in the last week. More walking associated with heavy traffic and unsafe streets.
Boarnet 2005 [54] 1244 M/F US 3rd–5th grade (˜8–11) I, O Presence of sidewalks, crossings and traffic control. Parent reports of walking or cycling to school. Those passing new sidewalks and traffic controls more likely to show increases in walking.
Braza 2004 [47] 2993 M/F US 5th grade (˜9–11) CS, O School size, population density and number of intersections per street mile around school. Child self-report of walking and biking to school on one day. Smaller school size and higher population density around school associated with higher levels of walking.
Bruijin 2005 [48] 3859 M/F Nether-lands High school (˜12–18) CS, O Objectively assessed level of urbanisation of residence. Adolescents self-reported use of a bike for transport. Those living in less urbanised places more likely to report cycling for transport.
Carver 2005 [25] 347 M/F Australia 12–13 CS, P Parent perceptions of recreational facilities, general safety, traffic, and good places to be active. Adolescent perceptions of ease of transport by bike, personal safety, traffic safety, strangers, social interactions, unattended dogs, strangers and provision of retail food facilities. Adolescents self-reported frequency of walking to school and for transport Adolescents self-reported frequency of cycling to school and for transport. Walked or cycled when good sports facilities (M), social interactions in the neighbourhood (MF), roads safe (MF), and convenience stores further from home (F).
Cole 2007 [49] 559 M/F Australia 4–7 CS, P Parental report of distance to school. Parent report of no. of days walking/cycling to school over last 5 school days. Those living further from school less likely to walk or cycle to school.
Evenson 2006 [36] 480 F US 10–15 CS, P Adolescent perceptions of personal & traffic safety, high crime, seeing others playing, unattended dogs, well lit streets, many places within easy walking distance of home, ease of walking to bus stop, presence of trees, exhaust fumes and bicycle or walking trails. Adolescent self-report of no. of days walked or cycled to school in past week. Less likely to walk or cycle to school if no exhaust fumes/bad smells in the neighbourhood (F). More likely if bicycle or walking trails and facilities were present (F).
Ewing 2004 [42] 726 U US 5–18 CS, O Objective assessment of sidewalk width, proportion of street miles with trees, bike lanes, sidewalks, estimated walk/bike time between destinations, school size, population and employment density. Travel diary of mode of travel to school. Those with shorter walk or bike times to school and routes with sidewalks on main roads more likely to walk or cycle to school.
Frank 2007 [45] 3161 M/F US 5–20 CS, O Intersection density, residential density, mixed land use, at least 1 commercial land use and at least 1 recreation/open space land use. Self-reported travel mode from two day travel diary. Recreation space associated with more walking. All environmental variables associated with more walking in 12–15 year olds. Higher residential density associated more walking in 9–11 year olds. At least 1 commercial land use & higher intersection density associated with more walking in 16–20 year olds.
Fulton 2003 [43] 1395 M/F US 4th–12th grade (˜8–18) CS, P, O Parent reported urban/rural status. Youth perceptions of neighbourhood safety and presence of sidewalks. Youth self-report of normal mode of travel to school. Living in an urban area and having sidewalks in the neighbourhood associated with more walking.
Hohepa 2007 [41] 3471 M/F New Zealand 12–18 CS, P Adolescent perception of social support from parents, siblings, and school Adolescent self-report of no. of trips walking/cycling to school over last 5 school days. Amongst 12–16 year olds, social support from friends & school associated with more walking or cycling to school. Amongst 16–18 year olds, no associations found.
Kerr 2006 [35] 259 M/F US 5–18 CS, P, O Parent perceptions of residential density, land use mix, stores within 20 mins walk, street connectivity, walking or cycling facilities, crime, pedestrian safety, aesthetics and parental concerns. Objectively assessed intersection density, residential density, land use mix, neighbourhood & individual walkability. Self-reported travel mode to school from two day travel diary. More active commuting associated with higher land use mix, more stores within 20 mins, greater street connectivity, more walk and bike facilities, more aesthetically pleasing neighbourhood, fewer parental concerns, higher residential density, individual & neighbourhood walkability.
Kerr 2007 [46] 3161 M/F US 5–18 CS, O Objectively assessed neighbourhood intersection density, residential density, mixed land use, ≥ 1 commercial land use and ≥ 1 recreational land use. Parental report of travel mode to school. More walking for transport with greater intersection and residential density, mixed land use, ≥ 1 commercial land use, ≥ 1 recreational land use. In non-whites, more walking with mixed land use and ≥ 1 recreational facility. In whites, all measures associated with walking.
McDonald 2007 [29] 614 M/F US 5–18 CS, O Objectively assessed distance to school, dwelling units per sq km, land use mix and average block size. Self-reported travel mode to school from two day travel diary. Those with journey length of <1.6 km more likely to walk to school and smaller block size associated with more walking/cycling. For longer trips, higher dwelling units per sq km associated with more walking/cycling.
McMillan 2007 [38] 1128 U US 3rd–5th grade (˜8–11) CS, P O Parent perception of neighbourhood safety and traffic speeds > 30 mph on route to school. Objective measurement of proportion of street segments with a complete sidewalk system, >50% of windows facing the street and a mix of land uses. Parental report of travel mode to school. More likely to walk or cycle to school when distance to school < 1 mile, neighbourhood had mixed land use & greater amount of windows faced street. Less likely when traffic speeds > 30 mph and unsafe neighbourhood reported.
Merom 2006 [50] 808 M/F Australia 5–12 CS, P Parental perception of distance to school and road safety. Parental report of travel mode to school during a usual week. Those further from school and having unsafe the neighbourhood less likely to walk or cycle to school.
Mota 2007 [32] 705 F Portugal 7th–12th grade (˜11–18) CS, P Parent perception of access to destinations, street connectivity, facilities for walking and cycling, safety, social environment, aesthetics and provision of recreational facilities. Parental report of travel mode to school. More likely to walk to school when streets in the neighbourhood were more connected.
Schlossberg 2005 [52] 104 U US Middle school (˜11–14) CS, O Objectively assessed network and straight line distance to school Parental report of walking or cycling to school frequency. More likely to actively commute if distance to school is shorter using both measures. However, no statistical significance is given.
Schlossberg 2006 [51] 287 M/F US 6th–8th grade (˜11–14) CS, O Objectively assessed distance to school, intersection density and dead end density of route, route directness, major roads and rail-roads proximal to route. Parental report of walking or cycling to school frequency. Shorter distance to school associated with more walking and cycling. Higher intersection density and lower dead-end density associated with more walking.
Sirard 2005 [30] U U US Elementary school (˜6–12) CS, O Objectively assessed school SES and level of urbanisation around school Direct observation of prevalence of walking or cycling to & from school. No significant associations identified.
Sjolie and Thuen, 2002 [53] 88 M/F Norway 14–16 CS, O Objectively assessed urban rural residence and distance to school. Adolescent reports of number of times walked or cycled to activities in a week. Those in an urban area and having shorter distance to travel likely to report more walking or cycling to school & for transport.
Timperio 2004 [34] 1210 M/F Australia 5–6 and 10–12. CS, P Parent perceptions of heavy traffic, safety (road, strangers), no lights or crossings, need to cross several roads to reach play areas, limited public transport & not many other children around. Child perceptions of traffic, safety (road, strangers) and provision of parks or sports grounds. Parental report of number of times walking or cycling used to get to destinations. For those aged 5–6, less walking or cycling associated with heavy traffic (M) & limited public transport (F). For those aged 10–12, less walking or cycling associated with no lights or crossings (M), need to cross several roads to reach play areas (MF), limited public transport (F), & few parks and sports grounds near home (F).
Timperio 2006 [40]* 912 M/F Australia 5–6 and 10–12. CS, P, O Child and parent perceptions of heavy traffic, strong concern about strangers and road safety, no lights/crossings, need to cross several roads to reach play areas, limited public transport & not many other children around. Objectively assessed distance to school, busy road barrier, route along busy road and pedestrian route directness. Parental report of walking or cycling to school frequency. Less likely to walk or cycle to school if journey to school > 800 m and busy road en-route. In those aged 5–6, a steep incline en-route associated with less walking or cycling. For those aged 10–12, a direct route associated with less walking or cycling.
Ziviani et al. 2004 [39] 164 M/F Australia 1st–7th grade (˜6–11) CS, P Parent perceptions of distance to school, traffic, manned crossings and pollution in the neighbourhood Parental report of walking or cycling to school at least once a week. Those with shorter journeys to school and whose parents had no concerns about road hazards or personal safety, more likely to walk to school.
  1. Note:
  2. Number/Gender/Country: M; male, F; female U; unknown.
  3. Design: CS, cross-sectional; I, intervention; P, perceived environment; O, objectively measured environment.
  4. *Given that the same sample was used in Timperio (2004) and Timperio (2006), only new findings from the 2006 have been included under the 2006 study.