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Understanding the school journey : integrating data on travel and environment.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2010
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Number of pages18
Original languageEnglish


Travelling to and from school is a regular part of life for most children. Such movement can also have important social, economic and environmental implications for both individuals and wider society. This paper uses innovative methods to examine the complexity of the school journey, and to relate it to exposure to air pollution and engagement with the environment through which children pass. Some 30 lower secondary school pupils used mobile phone and Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to record their routes to and from school in four study periods. They were asked to take photographs and write text messages relating to their route, and these data were then linked to modelled air pollution on the routes through which pupils travelled. Results demonstrate that for most children the journey to and from school is highly variable and contingent on other factors. Pupils that travelled independently (on foot, by bike or by bus) were most likely to engage with their immediate environment, and small variations in route choice had significant effects on the cumulative exposure to air pollution. It is argued that the results shed new light on the everyday experience of the school journey, and have implications for health promotion and transport planning in towns.