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There is too much traffic for Alex to walk to school, so we drive: a call to action based on a 42-year trend
  1. Christopher William Oliver1,
  2. Paul Kelly1,
  3. Graham Baker1,
  4. Dave du Feu2,
  5. Adrian Davis3
  1. 1 Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2 SPOKES, the Lothian Cycle Campaign, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3 Transport Research Institute, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Christopher William Oliver, Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9YL, UK; c.w.oliver{at}ed.ac.uk

Statistics from Altmetric.com

In 1971, a study of children’s travel to and from school focused on five English primary schools.1 The schools’ locations ranged from inner-urban London to a village primary school (ages 4–11). In 1990, the Policy Studies Institute published a follow-up study with the same schools and added linked secondary schools (ages 11–16).2 The results were alarming. Independent active travel was declining steeply—on average, a child in 1990 had to be 2.5 years older than in 1971 to be allowed permissions such as to cross local roads and to travel the school journey without an adult.1 2 A further study in 2013 reported further significant shrinkage.3 We are concerned about the effects this will have for Alex and all young people (figure 1).

Figure 1

The school journey.

What is the cause?

The drivers of children being kept on a leash are multifaceted, but implicated above all is the dominance of the ‘windscreen perspective’—politicians and highway engineers have a driver’s perspective. Travel by car, and provision for that, becomes the default choice. Public …

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