Walking alone or walking together: A spatial evaluation of children’s travel behavior to school

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Rybarczyk G., Ozbil A., Yesiltepe D., Argin G.

Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 2023 (SSCI) identifier identifier


The purpose of this research is to extend our understanding of children’s walking behavior to school in an understudied region of the world, Istanbul, Turkey. Children (aged 11–17) and their parents were surveyed to comprehend subjective and objective factors on walking behavior to school when alone or with someone. Using participatory mapping and GIS, a route detour index was first created to highlight differences in walking behaviors. A robust spatial analysis, consisting of spatial statistics and a hierarchical spatial error model, then signified important survey responses, urban design factors from space syntax, and neighborhood composition and contextual variables on between-group route choices. Empirical and geovisual analysis confirmed that accompanied children deviated more from GIS shortest routes to school than their unaccompanied peers, and “hot-spot” analysis showed it was dependent on where children reside. The spatial error models exhibited notable relations among route choice, children’s age, health, and gender. Parent attitudes concerning greenspace positively affected children’s longer route choices, while street connectivity had the opposite influence. Surprisingly, neighborhood walkability did not impact children’s route choice decisions for either group. The results provide new insights on how to encourage additional walking trips to school.