National Heart Foundation of Australia
According to the National Heart Foundation of Australia, the number of children walking to school has halved over the past forty years. This has coincided with a rise in the rate of childhood overweight and obesity and declines in the average fitness level of children (National Heart Foundation, 2014). National Heart Foundation conducted an online survey with Australian Parents in 2012 and found that the vast majority of parents surveyed indicated that their child travels to and from school by car (63%) (National Heart Foundation, 2012). Garrad, 2009 identifies that children who actively commute to school have higher levels of physical activity and improved cardiovascular fitness compared with children who do not walk or cycle to school (Garrad, 2009)
Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young
The Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young people is based upon the best available evidence from both national and state-based surveys. Each year a panel of physical activity experts evaluate all available evidence before assigning grades to each of the Report Card indicators.
The Active Healthy Kids Australia 2015 Progress Report Card on Active Transport for Children and Young People was launched on November 11 2015. With fewer Australian children walking or cycling to school today than ever before, the theme of the 2015 Progress Report Card was "The Road Less Travelled".
Census At School, Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013
Summary: A nation-wide annual survey of year 4 to 12 students. Results only reflect the views of students who voluntarily agreed to complete the surveys.
- Total kids in WA using active transport to school = 29.1% (not including public transport)
Source Location: http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/CaSHome.nsf/Home/2013+CensusAtSchool+Summary+Data
- Two out of three primary school students in the metropolitan area are driven to school, even though most children live within 2kms of their school that equates to a 20 minute walk.
- Approx 20% of Perth’s morning congestion is caused by the school run.
- 80% of trips in the Perth metropolitan area are made by private vehicle, of which 10% are for distances less than one kilometre (equivalent to a 10 minute walk).
- The annual cost of avoidable urban congestion in Perth is expected to be $2.1 billion by 2020.
It costs Perth’s local governments approx $600,000 to build one linear kilometre of suburban street in Perth. This compares to approx $110,000 to build one linear kilometre of shared concrete path around a Perth primary school.
- One car-parking space will fit 1 car, or 12 bikes, or 20 walkers.
 Department of Transport: http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/activetransport/24037.asp
 Data Analysis Australia, 2006, Perth and Regions Travel Survey.
 Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics, 2007, Estimating Urban Traffic and Congestion Cost Trends for Australian Cities.
 Based on advise from Main Roads WA and the City of Cockburn, 2014. These costs exclude planning, design, drainage, utilities, removal of unsuitable materials, tipping costs, line marking and treatment costs, etc. Costs of building roads and car parks vary greatly, depending on location and treatments used.
A Comparison study of children's independent mobility in England and Australia, Alison Carver et al. 2013
This research found that Australian parents' fear of their child/ren being abducted by a stranger and traffic issues played the greatest role in their decision to allow their child/ren to independently walk to school. These concerns exist despite statistics showing:
- most children are abducted by someone they know and random attacks are very rare; and
- traffic issues are exacerbated by more parents driving their children to school.
Active Travel to School, Cycling Promotion Fund 2012
Summary: Detailed data of factors affecting cycling to school in Australia.
- 9 in 10 parents believe that cycling is a good way to get fit
- 70% of parents surveyed believe it is important for kids to be able to ride independently, but nearly 50% do not think that it is safe to let their children ride to school
- 60 % of parents surveyed drive their kids to school
- 45% believe it is important for their kids to receive formal bike education
Source location: http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/Cycling-Survey-2012-Active-Travel-to-School.pdf
Towards active and independently mobile children: survey review, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation 2011
Summary: VicHealth report on various survey results and literature reviews which provide evidence of Victorian community attitudes to active travel for children.
- Approximately 80% of neighbourhood residents said it was important for children to be walking and riding about the local area without needing an adult to look after them
- 55% of respondents reported noticing primary school students walking or cycling to school each day with or without an adult. 40% rarely or never saw a child walking, riding or playing in the street
- 72% of parents of primary school students reported that availability of public transport was not a significant barrier to their child's physical activity within the community. However, 89% believed it was not safe for children to take public transport
- 73% of parents said that road safety was a barrier to physical activity in children, with only 20% believing it was safe for children to cross main roads
Source Location: http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/~/media/ResourceCentre/PublicationsandResources/Active%20travel/StreetsAhead/Towards%20active%20and%20independently%20mobile%20children.ashx
Nothing but fear itself: Parental fear as a determinant impacting on child physical activity and independent mobility, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation 2010
Summary: VicHealth report into the declining rates of children taking part in physical activity and the health problems which are rising as a result. It identifies parental fear as one of the causes and looks at the extent to which it is a barrier and the strategies which could be used to address the issue.
- In Australia it is estimated that children's aerobic fitness has declined at a rate of around 4% each decade since the 1970s
- Physical activity is related to improved cardiovascular function, decreases in risks for type 2 diabetes and lower rates of mental health problems
- 38% of participants (VicHealth survey) agreed that there is a high risk a child will be 'abducted by a stranger' if they move to and from places without adult supervision, with 63% agreeing that parents should not let primary school age children move to and from places without adult supervision
Source Location: http://www.childhealthresearch.org.au/media/205681/nothing_but_fear_itself_full_report.pdf
How times have changed: Active transport literature review, Dr Lisa Thomson 2009
Summary: VicHealth literature review looking at the reduced rate of children’s independent mobility. It looks at changes in values and attitudes between generations as well as gender differences and the barriers to independent mobility.
- The main barriers to independent mobility are cited as social and cultural (time-poor parents, peer-pressure, etc.) and physical and environmental barriers (local neighbourhoods and fear of injury/death as a result of motor vehicle accidents)
- Cadzow (2004) attributes a rise in childhood depression to parental attitudes about the world and believes that driving children to every destination results in a lack of understanding about how the world works
- The Pedestrian Council of Australia advocates that children up to the age of 10 years old should hold an adult’s hand when crossing the street. It also suggests that children up to 11 years old should be accompanied by an adult when cycling to school, although evidence suggests that children develop at different rates and teaching road safety is likely to help children to negotiate traffic conditions effectively
- One survey conducted in the North of England showed that 45% of parents felt that abduction was the greatest danger faced by primary school aged children rather than traffic accidents at 34%
- In 1971, 80% of 7 to 8 year olds in the UK were allowed to travel to school on their own, but in 1990, this rate had fallen to 9%
Source Location: http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/~/media/ProgramsandProjects/PhysicalActivity/Attachments/Active%20Transport%20Literature%20Review%20Final%20March%202009_2.ashx
Active transport: Children and young people, Dr Jan Garrad 2009
Summary: An overview of evidence of the effect of active travel on children including participation, health, safety and environmental factors. It also looks at different studies and programs in Australia and overseas and offers ideas about the future direction of active travel in Australia.
- 32% of children aged 9-16 years met the guideline for moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) every day, while 58% achieved this level on most days (2007 Australian Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (survey taken over 4 days))
- Active transport has the potential to make a substantial contribution to children’s daily physical activity (may be more equitable and inclusive than organised sport and exercise programs)
- Commuting to and from school comprises about half of young people’s total active travel time
- In Australia, children are nearly twice as likely to be killed as a car passenger than as a pedestrian, and more than 4 times as likely to be killed as a car passenger than as a cyclist
- Countries with higher levels of active transport generally have low pedestrian and cyclist fatality rates
Source Location: http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/~/media/ResourceCentre/PublicationsandResources/Active%20travel/Active_transport_children_and_young_people_FINAL.ashx
Active Travel to School: Literature Review, Dr Jan Garrad 2011
Summary: ACT government report outline the health and social benefits for children who participate in active transport. It argues that an increase in car use is a result of policies which promote the use of cars and inhibit cycling and walking. The report looks at overseas models and programs used in other Australian cities to show the effects of active transport participation.
- 32% of Australian children aged 9-16 years old do not meet the recommended levels of exercise.
- Physically active children tend to have better academic achievement, better attendance and fewer disciplinary problems
- Air pollution by motor vehicles accounted 900-2000 premature deaths in Australia costing $1.1-$2.6 billion (Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics 2005)
Source Location: http://www.timetotalk.act.gov.au/storage/Active%20travel%20to%20school%20Literature%20Review.pdf
Bike Riders Save Economy $21 On Each Commute, Matt Wade 2013
Summary: A newspaper article looking at how active transport can benefit the economy. Active transport options are cheaper than road transport and rapid changes to the labour market will increase the cost and reliance on transport infrastructure.
- Bike paths cost only $1.5 million per km to plan and build.
- The economy benefits $21 each time a person rides 20 min to work and back and saves $8.50 every time a person walks 20 min to work and back.
Are We Driving Our Kids To Unhealthy Habits?, Active Kids Canada 2013
Summary: Canadian website with Report Card on strategies, sources and behaviours to increase physical activity for children. Includes information on Canadian policies and school, family and community actions. Also suggests steps to take to promote active transport.
- 7% of 5-11 year olds and 4% of 12-17 year olds met the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Children and Youth
- If children walked all trips less than 1km (instead of being driven), they would take an extra 2,238 steps (on average) per day which equates to about 15-20 minutes physical activity
Source Location: http://www.activehealthykids.ca/Home.aspx?utm_source=Global+Summit+Newsletter+%233+-+2013+Report+Card+Launch&utm_campaign=Summit+Newsletter+%233&utm_medium=email
The Critical Decade 2013: A summary of climate change science, risks and responses, Professor Will Steffen & Professor Lesley Hughes 2013
Summary: Climate Commission report updating the current knowledge on climate change and de-carbonising targets. It discusses evidence, risks and responses and addresses reasons for why this is seen as the critical decade for action on climate change.
- For a 75% chance to meet the 2°C limit, we can emit no more than 1,000 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2000 and 2050. Between 2000 and 2013 we have used almost 40% of that budget
- The ocean has taken up about 90% of additional heat as a result of climate change between 1961-2003. In contrast, the atmosphere has absorbed only 3%. The rise in global average temperature over the last century has been around 0.8°C
- By 2010 fossil fuels accounted for 90% of emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere through human activities
Ditch the cotton wool and let kids travel independently, Lisa Gibbs & Bjorn Nansen 2013
Summary: Article concerning the reduction of children’s independent mobility over the last 30 years.
- The article contains links to studies and provides evidence to suggest ‘cotton-wool kids’ increase is partly responsible for rise in childhood obesity to 1 in 4 children
HEAT: Health economic assessment tool, WHO 2011
Summary: A World Health Organization tool to conduct economic assessments of the health benefits of active transport.
- Estimating the value of reduced mortality
- Planning cycling and walking infrastructure
- Providing input into economic appraisals and assessments on impact to health
Australia’s obesity rate balloons to 28 per cent
Summary: ABC article on the increase in Australia’s obesity rate from 1989 to 2013.
- 28% of Australians were obese in 2011-12 (up from only 11% in 1989)
- 63% of Australians were either overweight or obese
Vulnerable road users, Jon Sutton & Dr Ian Walker 2012
Summary: Interview with Dr Ian Walker (University of Bath) from www.thepsychologist.org.uk about how psychology can assist non-car drivers.
- “Because people are doing the same behaviour with different motivations, you can’t expect them all to accept the same infrastructure provision – the person who just wants exercise might tolerate stopping at every sidestreet but the person who wants to get to work quickly will not.”
- “… drivers do adjust their behaviour to the perceived needs of the non-drivers they are interacting with. The problem is that they do not always understand how to read these other people and judge their needs.”
- “Even if somebody came up with a car that runs off angels’ sighs and never crashes, it would still encourage sprawling urban planning, bad land use (especially for parking) and would still encourage its owner to get fat and unhealthy.”
Source Location: http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=25&editionID=217&ArticleID=2136
Co-benefits of mitigating global greenhouse gas emissions for future air quality and human health
Summary: Free section of a letter highlighting the links between reducing greenhouse gas emissions to air quality and health. The website includes links to tables for:
- Global population-weighted indicators of air quality.
- Effects of GHG mitigation on annual average PM2.5
- Premature mortality from PM2.5 (CPD plus lung cancer) and ozone (respiratory)
- Co-benefits of avoided premature mortality from PM2.5 (CPD plus lung cancer) and ozone (respiratory) in 2030, 2050 and 2100 (deaths per year per 1,000 km2, colour scale).
- Regional marginal co-benefits of avoided mortality and global marginal abatement costs
Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport: supporting active travel in Australian communities, Department of Infrastructure 2013
Summary: Federal Government Department of Infrastructure and Planning Ministerial Statement. Outlines how the Australian Government will increase the proportion of people who use public transport or who walk or ride when making short trips. The report also highlights the benefits of active transport including reduced congestion, reduced environmental impact and improved health and social cohesion.
- Traffic congestion is estimated to cost $20.4 billion by 2020
- Transport accounts 16% of total emissions (cars account for about half of this)
- Each time one person cycles 20 minutes to work and back, our economy benefits by $14.30
Source Location: http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/pab/urbanpolicy/active_travel/files/infra1874_mcu_active_travel_report_final.pdf
Behaviour Change: Individual Approaches, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence 2014
Summary: NICE public health guidance (UK) making recommendations on changing behaviours that may have an impact on peoples’ health. It includes guidance on making recommendations, actions to take and the importance of training.
- Interventions that help people change have considerable potential for improving health and wellbeing. (p.6). This includes helping them to … become more physically active.
- It is more difficult to have a healthy diet in an area with many fast food outlets, no shops selling fresh food and with poor public transport links if you do not have a car. (p.50)
- One person successfully trained 100 practitioners they, in turn, could help 10,000 people, and the knock-on effects would be huge.
Non-communicable disease prevention: Investments that work for physical activity, Global Advocacy for Physical Activity
Summary: Outlines how physical inactivity is linked to health problems and lists the best investments for physical activity.
- Physical inactivity is the 4th leading cause of deaths due to non-communicable disease worldwide
- Physical activity promotes healthy growth and development in children and is important for healthy ageing, improving and maintaining quality of life and independence in older adults
Engaging your minds: Addressing school travel challenges through innovation, Planning and Transport Research Centre 2012
Summary: Report on TravelSmart’s benefits, processes and plans for the future.
- More than 1 in 5 cars on the road during peak hour in Perth are involved in ferrying school children to school
- Between 1970-2006 there was a 75% reduction in walking and cycling to school in Australia
- Children who participate in ATS are more likely to travel actively to other destinations
An Australian Vision for Active Transport, 2011
Summary: A cross organisational report into the challenges faced in Australia in the areas of transport, climate change and health. Also looks into options to create a national shift towards active transport.
- Avoidable cost of congestion in capital cities is estimated at $9.4 billion in 2005 (including $1.1 billion in air pollution costs) and is projected to rise to $20.4 billion by 2020
- 54% of Australian adults are not sufficiently physically active to gain health benefits. Physical inactivity costs the health budget an estimated $1.5 billion a year and the economy $13 billion a year
- Economic analysis by the City of Sydney found that a proposal to construct 293km of cycleways would deliver $506 million in economic benefits to the community over 30 years, or a return of $3.88 for every dollar invested
Source Location: http://www.beactive.wa.gov.au/assets/files/Guidelines/ActiveTransport%20vision%20for%20Australia.pdf
Stepping Out: Children negotiating with independent travel, Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program at The McCaughey Centre 2012
Summary: A study aimed at increasing understanding of children’s active and independent travel by learning about the challenges and decisions they make in their independent mobility.
- The decline in children’s independent mobility over the last 20 years has not only had effects on levels of physical activity, but also that the health and wellbeing impacts extend to a range of personal, spatial and social dimensions including self-confidence, navigation, autonomy, interaction and connectedness
- Barriers to children’s independent mobility include changes to the urban environment, perceptions amongst parents concerning children’s safety and changes in lifestyle, behaviours and attitudes.
- Bikes were seen as important for speed of travel amongst kids (“With bikes, if someone is coming to get you, you can ride off and escape”)
- Mobile phones for children increased confidence and mediation of children’s independent mobility. This remote-contact between parents and children allowed both groups to feel less fear about independent travel. It also freed children from parental deadlines and empowered kids to reclaim public spaces.
Source Location: http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/~/media/ResourceCentre/PublicationsandResources/Physical%20activity/Stepping-Out_Final-Report.ashx
CensusAtSchool, Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013
Summary: A nation-wide yearly project run by the ABS and aimed at collected data from students in areas relevant to them. It uses questionnaires to source data about student attitudes and opinions. (Note that the results only reflect the views of those students who voluntarily agreed to complete the surveys.)
- Total kids in WA using active transport to school = 29.1%
- Total kids in WA using ‘non-car’ transport to school = 58.9%
- Total kids in Australia active transport to school = 22.9%
- Total kids in Australia ‘non-car’ transport to school = 54.0%
Source Location: http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/CaSHome.nsf/Home/2013+CensusAtSchool+Summary+Data
Car Nation, Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013
Summary: ABS analysis of statistical information on passenger vehicle ownership in Australia between 1955-2013. The article also looks into the social costs of using passenger vehicles.
- Between 1955-2013 passenger vehicles have increased from 1.4 million to 13 million (4% increase per year)
- In 1955 there were 153 passenger vehicles for every 1000 people, which has increased to 568 per 1000 people in 2013
- In 2012 only 16% of Australians used public transport to travel to work or full-time study, while 4% walked and 2% cycled
- In 2012, of the adults who used passenger vehicles to travel to work or full-time study, 53% stated that lack of public transport services was one of the main reasons for not taking public transport
- In 2012 only 2% of adults cycled to work or study. Half of the adults who did not cycle stated that the distance to work or study was too far. However, 37% of people’s average distance to work was less than 10km and a further 24% had an average distance of 10-20km to work
- In the ABS 2010-2011 Crime Victimisation Survey over a third of people perceived noisy driving and dangerous driving to be social problems in their area
Source Location: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features40July+2013
Transforming Australian Cities, Victorian Department of Transport & City of Melbourne 2009
Summary: Victorian Government report into potential transformation of metropolitan Melbourne to meet the projected population of 8 million by 2050.
- Correlation between the use of public transport and exercise
- Public transport users get a daily average of 41 minutes exercise compared with 8 minutes for those who drive
- Benefits of urban corridors including reduced car dependency, better use of existing infrastructure, more economical use of high quality public transport and greater access to recreation opportunities as a result of mixed use development
Source Location: http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/AboutMelbourne/Statistics/Documents/TransformingCitiesMay2010.pdf
Pedestrian Safety, Urban Space and Health, OECD 2012
Summary: This report presents decision-makers with hard evidence on the importance of walking in transport policies and provides guidelines for developing a safe environment conducive to walking
- Walking is valuable for children as they learn how to manage complex environments
- Cost benefits of walking in transport policies including health cost savings, congestion savings, environmental pollution savings and noise reduction costs
- Walking 30 minutes per day reduces the risk of many diseases associated with physical inactivity. The WHO demonstrated that the benefits of walking are greater than any risk associated with accidents or air pollution
- Risk of fatal injury to pedestrians can be reduced by over 80% for traffic speed limits at 30km/h when compared to speed limits of 50km/h
- ‘Motorisation’ of society contributes to urban sprawl and have a negative impact on social cohesion