Understanding the determinants of active transportation to school among children: evidence of environmental injustice from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development

Health Place. 2012 Mar;18(2):163-71. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2011.08.017. Epub 2011 Sep 10.


Purpose: To examine the combined influence of poverty and dangerousness of the neighborhood on active transportation (AT) to school among a cohort of children followed throughout the early school years.

Methods: Growth curve modeling was used to identify determinants of AT to school among 710 children participating in the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development from 2003 through 2006. Parent-reported dangerousness and pedestrian-vehicle collision data were merged with travel mode and health data.

Results: At age 6 years, insufficient household income, having an older sibling, and living in a neighborhood that is not excellent for raising children, or characterized with high decay were predictive of greater likelihood of using AT and remained unchanged as children progressed from kindergarten through grade 2.

Conclusion: A public health concern is children experiencing environmental injustice. Since AT is most likely to be adopted by those living in poverty and because it is also associated with unsafe environments, some children are experiencing environmental injustice in relation to AT. Interventions may be implemented to reduce environmental injustice through improvements in road safety.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Poverty Areas*
  • Public Health
  • Quebec
  • Safety
  • Schools
  • Social Justice
  • Transportation / methods*