Active Transportation to School: attitudes and appraisal

Lodge, Jean (2009) Active Transportation to School: attitudes and appraisal. Masters thesis, Waterford Institute of Technology.


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Introduction: Only recently have we come to understand that physically inactive lifestyles are one of the major public health challenges of our time. The increase in sedentary behaviour (physical inactivity) over the last number of decades is thought to be one of the main risk factors for the development of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and psychosocial constraints (Anderson, Crespo,Barlett, Cheskin, & Pratt, 1998). The possibility that the commute school can play a role in increasing physical activity and reducing obesity among children has received attention recently (Appleyard, 2002; Tudor-Locke, Ainsworth & Popkin, 2001; U.S Department of Transport, 2004). However, there is a substantial deficit of research regarding barriers to and facilitators of active to school in Ireland including a lack of exploration of the attitudes of parents, pupils and teachers to active transportation to school. To date there have only been two pilot projects initiated in urban areas with large populations. No study has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. In addition, there have been no research-based interventions to encourage active to school. Methodology: This research involved both quantitative and qualitative data collection centred on the development and implementation of a School Travel Plan. Data regarding the attitudes and changes in attitudes of pupils, teachers and parents towards walking and cycling to school was collected at baseline, impact and outcome evaluation stage. Results: The overall results indicate that pupils, teachers and parents understand the many benefits of walking/cycling to school. The barriers and facilitators to active to school reported in literature were also reported in this research. The main barrier to active to school identified by pupils concerned issues over body image. Parents’ greatest barriers to active to school included the safety of pupils and a lack of infrastructure conducive to walking/cycling.Conclusion: The overall conclusion of this study is that while the benefits of active transport to school are widely recognised, pupils, parents and teachers expressed many barriers and concerns regarding children walking/cycling to school. Body image was a major concern and barrier to walking/cycling to school. Furthermore, a lack of infrastructure, personal safety and danger from traffic is a major concern for both parents and teachers. However, it appears that infrastructural barriers could be considered perceived as opposed to actual barriers as they were overcome without being changed: more active modes of travel to school were observed and reported without any improvements to or addition of footpaths, crossings or cycle lanes. For example the perceptions of personal safety and the apparent lack of infrastructure when investigated further through a walkability analysis did not represent an actual barrier to active to school. Furthermore, changes in travel modes in favour of walking were witnessed even though there was no change made to infrastructure in the area.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Departments or Groups: *NONE OF THESE*
Divisions: School of Health Sciences > Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Studies
Depositing User: Alan Carbery
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2010 16:07
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2016 10:26

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