Children’s route choice behaviour: Comparing the actual and metrically shortest routes for active school travel

Nafsika Michail, Ayse Ozbil Torun, Rosie Parnell, Kyung Wook Seo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Understanding the built environmental (BE) attributes associated with children’s navigation choices during active travel to school is of utmost importance since the findings can lead to targeted environmental interventions to promote active living among children. In active school travel (AST) literature GIS-calculated metrically shortest routes or circular buffers around home/school are generally assessed to identify the underlying BE features influencing children's route choice behaviour. However, this approach may fail to capture actual BE features children are exposed to during their active school trips and hence may result in misleading results. This study investigates the daily AST walking routes (n=21) of 9-10 years old children (n=79) in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. The actual routes were examined against the corresponding shortest paths between the homes and the schools. Street design characteristics for each road segment along the actual and shortest routes were evaluated through detailed field surveys that captured 21 environmental attributes including street network design captured by various syntactic measures. Paired t-tests and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were conducted for these environmental attributes and the effects of different BE variables in route selection were estimated in conditional logistic models. Results reveal that children prefer to walk along routes with increased metric accessibility, reduced setback distance, increased average footpath width, and available benches. This study contributes to the literature by broadening our understanding of the environmental attributes that may promote AST. Findings could also inform urban planners, designers and health professionals in their behaviour change interventions targeting active living promotion, especially for children.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 13th International Space Syntax Symposium 2022
EditorsAkkeiles van Nes
ISBN (Electronic)9788293677673
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2022
Event13th International Space Syntax Symposium - Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), Bergen, Norway
Duration: 20 Jun 202225 Jun 2022


Conference13th International Space Syntax Symposium
Abbreviated titleSpace Syntax Symposium
Internet address


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