School Choice, Distance to School and Travel to School Patterns Among Adolescents

Mandic, S
Sandretto, S
Hopkins, D
Wilson, G
Kidd, G
García Bengoechea, E
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Journal Article
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Introduction: The absence of school zoning and availability of school choice in some countries leads to increasing travel distance to school, reduced active transport and increased motorized transport to school. This study compared sociodemographic characteristics, reasons for school choice and school transport patterns among urban adolescents based on their enrolment in the closest or a non-closest school and living within walkable or non-walkable distance to school.

Methods: Adolescents (n = 2869) from all twelve secondary schools in Dunedin, New Zealand completed an online questionnaire about school choice and school transport in 2014–2015 and 2020–2022. Participants were categorized into four groups based on home-to-school distance and school enrolment: enrolled in the closest school within walking distance (≤2.25 km) (‘closest + walkable’; 22.7%) or not (‘closest + non-walkable’; 20.3%), and enrolled in a non-closest school within walking distance (‘non-closest + walkable’; 6.2%) or not (‘non-closest + non-walkable’; 50.1%).

Results: Overall, 43% of adolescents initially enrolled in the closest school, and only half of those lived within walking distance to school. Enrolment in a co-educational school, a non-special character school and a lower decile school and choosing a school because of proximity and social connections were more common among those who enrolled in the closest versus a non-closest school (all p < 0.05). Rates of active transport were higher among those living within walkable distance to school, irrespective of enrolment in the closest or a non-closest school (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: These findings show that distance to school is more consequential than school choice itself regarding how adolescents travel to school.

33 Built Environment and Design , 4206 Public Health , 42 Health Sciences , 3304 Urban and Regional Planning , Pediatric , 1117 Public Health and Health Services , 1205 Urban and Regional Planning , 1507 Transportation and Freight Services , 3304 Urban and regional planning , 3509 Transportation, logistics and supply chains , 4206 Public health
Journal of Transport and Health, ISSN: 2214-1405 (Print); 2214-1413 (Online), Elsevier, 33, 101704-. doi: 10.1016/j.jth.2023.101704
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