Children's Independent Mobility to School in Seven European Countries: A Multinomial Logit Model

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Dec 7;17(23):9149. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17239149.


The determinants of children's independent school mobility and the contextual discrepancies between these determinants have not been comprehensively investigated in previous studies. It is important to examine these determinants because independent school mobility is associated with children's physical activity, according to the literature. This paper examined the associations of different groups of variables such as household, mobility, perceptions, and the built environment with independent school mobility of children between 9 and 12 years using a sample of 1304 girls (50.9%) and boys (49.1%) in seven European countries. The sample was analyzed by Multinomial Logistic Regression, Chi-square test of independence, and Proportional Reduction in Error methods. According to the findings, father's and mother's commute mode choice, child's mode choice of commute to school, child's bike ownership, parent's perception of safety, parent's evaluation of bike lane and sidewalk quality, child's commute distance, number of driving licenses in the household, accessibility of public transport, and population density in the neighborhood and around the school proved to be very strong and significant determinants of children's independent school mobility in the Europe-wide sample. The comparison of the levels of independent school mobility did not show any significant differences between high-income countries such as Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, and emerging economies and developing countries like Poland, Greece, Turkey, and Croatia. However, a direct comparison between Poland (emerging economy) (33.6%) and the Netherlands (high-income) (31.7%) revealed significant differences in the level of independent school mobility. This study found the motives for this discrepancy due to the significant difference in bike ownership, the number of household members working outside of the house, household size, commute distances of parents, and driving license possession.

Keywords: built environment; children’s independent mobility; physical activity; school transport; sustainable mobility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Croatia
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Schools*
  • Turkey