HASTe Blog

Walking To School Goes Mainstream!

Submitted by: Omar

There was a time when only environmentalists and free-range-parents would advise you to let your kids walk to school. Well, there was a time when everyone walked to school, but let's keep this 21st century.

This year, walking to school - or, even better, letting your children do so unaccompanied - officially went mainstream, with an endorsement by that venerable Canadian journalistic institution, The Globe and Mail. To be fair, the editorial notes that walking to schools is "a subversive act" and warns readers that they will "to earn the opprobrium of [their] fellow parents."

But hey, it's a start. Click here to read the full article.

Car Free Schools

Submitted by: mikesmith

This past spring, HASTe helped organize the first-ever Car Free Festivals in Vancouver for high schools. Great events to promote active travel and kick off a car-free summer. Click here to find out more.

Car Free Schools was developed as a test model for car-free events at Vancouver schools. HASTe set out to improve collaborations and partnerships on school transportation issues and to reduce driving rates to Vancouver schools, and of course, have a little fun doing it! With the help of student leaders at Sir Winston Churchill, Eric Hamber, and Windermere Secondary, each school was able to create a festival that attracted a captive student audience and promote the idea of active travel by shutting down the street to cars and opening it to creative ideas and programming.

The numbers speak for themselves:
    •    approximately 3000 participants at all 3 festivals
    •    250 volunteers
    •    120 activity leaders
    •    3 core organizing teams

Each school is excited to run the event again next year and additional schools have expressed an interest in participating as well.
Thanks to all the supporting organizations who helped to make this an incredible success and we look forward to next year's events!

Read the editorial from the Metro News.

Unlearning How to Ride a Bicycle

Submitted by: Omar

In celebration of Bike to School Week, here's a video about unlearning how to ride a bicycle, which maybe gets at some undiscovered truths about learning how to ride a bicycle... or something. Worth watching, I promise; this will blow your mind.


Bike to School Week 2015 Registration Has Begun

Submitted by: Omar

Registration for BC Bike to School Week 2015 is open! Sign your school up for this year's event, to receive a resource package and be eligible to win sweet prizes from our fabulous sponsors. We're aiming to have resource packages in schools by May 1st so don't wait, register today!

Public Transit IS Active Transportation

Submitted by: Omar

By: Amanda Frazer, MSc & Dr. Christine Voss

By now you’ve probably heard Canadian children aren’t active enough, and unfortunately that’s nothing new. You’ve also probably heard that getting children and youth to walk or bike to school is one of the most powerful ways to increase daily physical activity. It also goes without saying that young people who walk or bike to school are more physically active during their commute than those who are chauffeured in the family car. But what about those children who live too far to walk or bike to school? Are they necessarily destined for a sedentary childhood buckled down in the family car?

We don’t think so. Find out why after the break.

In our Active Streets, Active People - Junior study we are investigating how young people get to and from their destinations, including school. Importantly, what do those travel choices mean for their levels of physical activity and overall health? To answers these important questions, we asked high school students from downtown Vancouver to wear a physical activity monitor (accelerometer) and carry a global positioning system (GPS) for a week. These objective data enabled us to assess the transportation mode (walk, bike, car, public transit), duration, distance and physical activity levels of each trip that was taking during the week.

We found that most students walked as their primary mode of travel to and from school. These walkers obtained about 20 minutes of healthful physical activity from school travel, nearly one third of their daily physical activity requirement!

However, we were surprised to see just how common public transit trips were among downtown Vancouver teens for getting to and from school. Usually in the North American context, kids who live more than about 1 km from school are driven in the family car or they take a school bus. This has important health implications. We found that teens taking public transit accumulated approximately the same amount of physical activity as teens who walked to school.

Traveling on public transit is what we call a ‘walk interrupted’: every transit trip begins and ends with a walk to and from a transit stop. With the help of our GPS and physical activity data, we found that teens who use public transit to get to school had a longer trip overall (in terms of time and distance), but they walked about the same amount as the teens who walked straight to school.

A well-connected public transit network gives teens the opportunity to travel independently to school and reap health benefits. To us this underscores the importance of planning our neighbourhoods to connect homes to schools. Our research also shows that teens often go to places like community centres before they go home after school, and they usually travel there by public transit.

An abundant access to public transit that connects schools to other community destinations makes it easier for young people to get to their after school activities.

In another recent study, we compared the school travel patterns of teens from downtown Vancouver to those of teens living in a suburban area of Surrey. Not only did more Vancouver teens walk to school compared with teens from Surrey (63% vs 53%), but they also tended to get more physical activity from their school trip. Interestingly, the teens who used a motorized vehicle (car or bus) for their school trip, showed physical activity levels twice as high in teens from Vancouver as compared with Surrey during the commute. This group of Vancouver teens also had about 10 more minutes of physical activity each day than teens in Surrey who were driven to school.

These higher activity levels appear to be the result of downtown teens using public transit as their form of motorized travel compared with teens in areas with less public transit infrastructure who were primarily driven to school. This is likely connected with living further from school in largely car-dependent neighbourhoods, whereas the downtown teens have access to multi-modal options in the transit-rich urban core.

It is essential we consider the way we design our neighbourhoods so that we make it possible and easy for people to be more active. By doing so we create an environment for people to be healthier, wealthier, and happier.

By failing to invest in public transit, we take away the tools for our young people to have healthful physical activity as part of their daily routines. We reduce access to vital community services that help young people grow into healthy, active, and engaged young adults. For these reasons, we whole-heartedly support the upcoming transit plebiscite and encourage you to vote “yes” with us.


This blog post originally appeared on the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility's website.

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