Evaluating the built environment for children's active travel to school
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Active modes of transport for children, such as walking and cycling, have been linked to increased well-being through better health, social connectedness and independence. In order to plan, design and adapt built environments for more active travel to schools, planners require indications of how supportive urban environments are for walking and cycling. One method of evaluating the quality of the pedestrian environment is a walkability audit. This paper reports on the findings from the conduct of a state agency walkability audit of the built environment surrounding a primary school in Western Australia. A comparison of the results of this audit is made with data drawn from a photo collage exercise with school children. Interviews with planning practitioners and community advocates who use audits to inform and legitimise planning for active travel adds a third dimension on current issues of use.The primary purpose of the study is not to test the reliability of the audit, rather to investigate the findings of a publicly available walkability audit in relation to children's evaluations of the same space and explore the comparison in the context of current transport planning practice. The findings indicate a good synergy between the state agency audit and walkability issues raised by the children. Changes to the process of conducting an audit recommended, including the use of visual imagery and a collaborative audit to promote shared understanding.
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