Completing the Picture: Mapping how Children fit into the transportation Landscape
***Note: The next Province Wide Count is on February 21-24, 2017***
The Active and Safe Routes to School Program at Green Action Centre is conducting a two year study of Transportation Modes in Manitoba Schools. Count your school and division in, and help us gather a clear picture of how children are getting to and from school in Manitoba in 2016-2017
Starting in February 2016, thanks to funding from the Heart and Stroke, the Active and Safe Routes to School (ASRTS) program at Green Action Centre is conducting a province wide count of transportation modes for Manitoba schoolchildren. Using our proprietary Web App BikeWalkRoll, we are asking schools and school divisions across the province to chart the transportation modes of the students in their schools for 2 one week periods in February and May of 2016, and again in February and May of 2017.
Why are we conducting this study?
Currently, there is very little data on how schoolchildren in Manitoba are getting to and from school. At present we only have anecdotal information from parents and schools; this study aims to change that, and help us gather comprehensive and reliable data on the transportation landscape for Manitoba schoolchildren.
Once we have the data collected, we will be working with a team of Health Economists, Epidemiologists, and Climate change specialists to evaluate the data, and publish a report on our findings in the fall of 2017. We are hoping to use this report to spark a discussion on how children are transported to and from school every day, and ultimately encourage more parents and children to choose the healthier and less polluting choice by walking or biking to school instead of driving where possible.
How can my school Participate?
We have attempted to make the submitting of data as easy as possible, as we know that teachers and administrators are pressed for time in their daily workdays.
There are four easy steps to participate:
1) To participate, simply conduct a hands up survey every morning for 4 one week periods:
The weeks of February 22nd-26th and May 16th-20th of 2016;
& February 20th-24th and May 15th-19th of 2017
This hands up survey consists of simply asking the kids in your school “How did you get to school today?”, and recording what transport mode they employed that day.
The five transport modes we are recording in our study are:
Bike (from home to school)
Walk (from home to school)
Roll (rollerblade, skateboard, wheelchair, stroller, etc.)
Car (or taxi)
Bus (or public transit)
2) Record the transport modes of the kids in your class on a chart, piece of paper, parchment- whatever is easiest.
3) At the end of the week, Log onto our web app at BikeWalkRoll.org, and locate your school.
4) Enter your class name, and the data collected.
Once your data has been entered, you will be able to compare your class and school scores to that of other schools across the world!
This data can be used in any variety of ways to study the way that children travel to and from school, discuss the benefits of active travel including physical activity, cleaner air and safer streets.
Why should my School and Division Participate?
Numerous studies have shown many benefits to having children walk or bike to school, including:
1) Improved health through physical activity Canada received a grade of “D” for active transportation in the 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card, with only 24% of Canadian children regularly walking or biking to school. Children who walk and bike to school have higher physical activity levels throughout the day, helping them meet the recommended 60 minutes of activity daily. This level of activity helps prevent childhood obesity and supports healthy bones.
2) Cleaner air as less vehicles are on the road; schools with high traffic volumes have poorer air in the immediate area around the school as parents drive their kids to school. Air quality around a school suffers when dozens of parents sit in idling cars while their children jump out. Air pollution has contributed to childhood asthma rates doubling between 1980 and the mid-1990s. Asthma rates remain at historically high levels and cause 14 million missed school days every year. Walking and biking to school is healthy for kids, healthy for communities, and healthy for the planet.
3) Safer streets as vehicle traffic is reduced; schools that are able to increase the number of children walking and biking to school regularly witness a corresponding drop in vehicle traffic in the immediate area around the school.
4) Better learning as studies have shown that students who walk or bike are able to concentrate better; a MASS experiment in Denmark in 2012 showed that students who walk or bike to school displayed an “increased power of concentration, and the effect of this ‘exercise’ lasted all morning”
5) Safer communities as more people are on the streets every day; the more people walking and biking on the streets in a community makes for more eyes to look out for criminal behaviour, reducing the opportunity for criminals to commit crimes unobserved.
6) Reduced Carbon emissions as less vehicles are on the road, helping to combat climate change, and reduce the adverse effects that correspond with a changing climate.
7) Improved Safety for Children: The 2015 ParticipACTION report found that “Canadian children are eight times more likely to die as a passenger in a motor vehicle than from being hit by a vehicle when outside on foot or on a bike.” If we want to protect our children both from short term injury as well as long term health complications, we should encourage them to walk or bike to and from school.
8) More inspiration and opportunity for outdoor Play: As children are able to explore and become comfortable in their community, they are more likely to find inspiration in the outdoor spaces in their community that they might otherwise miss while travelling in a vehicle.