A systematic review of children's travel behaviour change programs in Australia
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Active school travel, which incorporates walking and bicycling to and from school, is an important contributor to the total physical activity of Australian children. It is a major component of children's independent mobility (CIM) defined as children's travel without adult accompaniment. Interventions to promote active school travel are currently deployed by many Australian local and state governments. Past reviews of children's travel behaviour interventions suffer gaps in the tracking and exposition of the different approaches used in Australia, and in how programs and policies treat CIM within the particular Australian urban context. As part of a larger project on such interventions and CIM (the iMATCH Project) our intent is to identify the results of multiple approaches, identify successful interventions and highlight issues requiring attention. Following systematic collection of archival, documentary and informant-provided materials from across the states, this paper provides a review of Australian children's travel behaviour change programs for the years 2000 to 2010, complemented by a meta-analysis of published studies in this field. The objectives, delivery mechanisms and resourcing of programs is examined, and details on the roll-out and evaluation results for specific interventions provided. Learnings from across the states are appraised, with a focus on the results of many walking school bus programs (where this was the sole purpose of activity), the effect of different approaches to resourcing, and the importance of holistic interventions targeting individual school's needs. The review shows that a specific sub-set of programs can be highly antagonistic to CIM and raises concerns about their benefit beyond niche contexts. There remain large questions about the role of school staff and of parental behaviours, attitudes and preferences. These latter dimensions could support improved interventions in future but further research is needed to test their influence.
35th Australasian Transport Research Forum Proceedings
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