This study examines how active transportation could help increase the daily physical activity volume of school-aged children.
Using data from the 2003 Origin-Destination Survey carried out among 5% of the 3.5 million residents of the Greater Montreal Area, we determined the proportion of short motorized trips made daily by children 5-14 years old (16 837 children sampled) and estimated the number of steps these trips would account for if they were travelled by foot, taking into account variables such as age, sex and height of children. Modal choice and trip purpose were also examined.
In 2003, 31.2% of the daily trips made by children aged 5-14 years in the Greater Montreal Area were 1 km or less (0.6 mile). Of these, 33.0% were motorized trips. Overall, 13.1% of the children in the area had 'steps in reserve', an average of 2238 steps per child per day. If they were performed, these steps would account for 16.6% of the daily recommended volume of physical activity for children.
Replacing short motorized trips with walking could increase the physical activity level of children and contribute to meet the recommended guidelines, as long as these walking trips add to their daily physical activity volume. It could also reduce their dependence towards adults for moving around.