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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).
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 …
Contributors CWO thought up the idea for the paper. CWO, PK, GB, DdF and AD wrote the paper jointly.
Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement We are happy to share the paper and data.
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