Fostering Active Transportation In School Communities: A Literature Review And Case Study Of A Suburban Toronto High School
MetadataShow full item record
Active transportation is a growing area of interest in planning, particularly in relation to young people, who are walking and cycling considerably less throughout North America than in previous decades. Approaches to transportation planning have undergone major shifts in recent decades, moving away from car-oriented plans overseen by rational experts, towards plans that make space for walking, cycling, and public transit, and are informed by a chorus of voices and participants. The increasing prioritization of active transportation modes evolved from advocacy, feminist, and environmental planning theorists and other urban thinkers, and now features prominently in recent planning concepts such as Complete Streets, Walkability, and New Urbanism. The paper includes a multi-disciplinary review of literature on the subject of active transportation and young people. The first section places the subject matter in a planning context, including both planning theory and practice. The next section investigates various interventions to improve road safety for people who walk and ride bicycles, including lowering vehicle speeds on roadways, and improving pedestrian crossings and bicycle infrastructure. Finally, literature as it relates to young people and active transportation is investigated, looking at particular benefits of active transportation for youth, additional safety issues in regards to young pedestrians and cyclists, and behavioural patterns and potential for changing youth travel behaviour towards more active travel modes. The information is then applied to a study of West Hill Collegiate Institute, a public high school in suburban Scarborough, part of the amalgamated City of Toronto. Through a scan of the demographics and current conditions of the school's student catchment area, as well as consultation with students, a picture is drawn of a school and community where people walk only for very short trips, and very small numbers of people ride a bicycle, especially for daily commuting. Students have positive impressions about cycling and walking, but face barriers including distance, safety concerns,topography, and a lack of infrastructure. Using the information from the literature review, study and student consultation, a plan is developed in order to make active transportation easier, safer, and more welcoming in the area around the school. Recommendations in the plan work outward, starting with the school grounds directly, then considering the immediate neighbourhood nearby, and the outer section of the catchment area. The plan also includes ways to build educational and community programming and policies that support active transportation. While the plan can be used as a guide for future transportation changes in the area, it is also meant to be an consultation and educational tool to spur discussion about how to improve road safety and active transportation in the area under study. Ideally, the plan will be further refined through additional community engagement, and the attention of local governmental agencies. The model used for this plan provides a framework that can be used by other public high schools and their communities to develop plans that focus on youth and active transportation.