Active transport to school: ideals and realities

Elaine Mullan, Jean Lodge

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    Rates of cycling and walking to school, or active transport to school (ATS) have been in decline, in Ireland and across the ‘developed’ world, since the mid 1980’s. In particular, very few now cycle to school. At the same time, rates of childhood obesity have been rising. Also, many young people today do not get sufficient daily physical activity to benefit their health. Research with students, parents and teachers in a girls’ secondary school in co. Waterford over a nine-month period confirmed that road safety fears and lack of suitable infrastructure (e.g., bike paths, pedestrian crossings) are the most common reasons for lack of ATS. Increasing car use generates the traffic volumes that increases fear of road traffic accidents. This restricts young people’s independent travel, means less people in general walk and cycle, creates a greater social pressure to drive everywhere and creates greater fear of ‘strangers’. This leads to more parents chauffering their children from A to B, which, in turn, increases traffic volumes and fear of accidents. The case study also found that no girl cycled to school in Tramore and that attitudes to cycling were particularly negative. The girls’ greatest barrier to ATS in general was their perceived image. ATS was seen as awkward, dangerous, requiring effort, creating hassle and sweat. Car travel was seen as safer, more pleasant, less hassle, and didn’t ruin their ‘look
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe SPorting, Leisure and Lifestyle Patters of Irish Adolescents: the Impact of the Celtic Tiger years
    PublisherThe Liffey Press
    ISBN (Print)9781905785926
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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