"I will be not a nerd": Children's Development, the Built Environment and School Travel

  • Central Queensland University Melbourne Australia
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Children's development is influenced by the layout of the urban landscape. Yet current design patterns of poor street layouts, inaccessible facilities, and vehicular congestion depict an inhospitable landscape for children. How can Australian cities ensure that the built environment does not act as a deterrent for autonomous travel among children? Two schools situated in Western Sydney suburban tract developments and two schools located along grid street formations (inner West and inner city) were compared and contrasted for urban design mechanisms and incidences of walking patterns among school children. Structured around the understanding that children are affected by and can affect their local surroundings, this research used surveys, drawings, and focus group discussions to integrate children's perspectives into models of pedestrian behaviour. The results indicate that, to a child, the built environment along a school journey incorporates more than access and safety issues. Physical attributes which allow children to feel welcomed and engage their senses provide children with motivation to walk to and from school. By elucidating children's interpretation of their school journey, practitioners, academics, and others can work towards designing sensory environments that embed healthy developmental competencies among children.

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... Schools, shopping centres, and friend's houses also were drawn by significant numbers of children (Hume et al, 2005). A similar study in Sydney with 8-12 year olds found 'neighbourhoods good to walk in' had natural elements such as trees and flowers, playgrounds and less formal recreational areas, food-related and other retail shops, footpaths and good crossings, and plenty of 'eyes on the street' to combat stranger danger concerns (Romero, 2007). However, the traditional planning approach has been to achieve lower child pedestrian and cyclist injury rates 'largely by removing children from the traffic environment' (Garrard, 2009, p. 14), and indeed, from the public realm. ...
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The Australian and New Zealand Association of Planning Schools (ANZAPS) 2010 Annual Conference was hosted by Lincoln University at the Hereford Street YMCA in Christchurch, New Zealand, from 17th to 19th April 2010. This Conference was ranked as a “B” category conference in the 2010 list of the Excellence in Research for Australia Initiative (ERA) by the Australian Research Council (ARC). These Proceedings comprise primarily the full written papers presented at the conference. Before publication these papers went through a double-blind peer review process and revision. The editors thank the international panel of reviewers for their contribution to this publication. The abstracts of the remaining papers and the notes prepared for the fieldtrip are also included in this publication. All abstracts were reviewed by the editors before the acceptance of the (revised) abstract for publication. Hosting this Conference formed part of the active research and professional community engagement activities of the Environmental Management and Planning research theme in the Land Environment and People Research Centre at Lincoln University, and has been supported by Lincoln University’s Department of Environmental Management and the Australian and New Zealand Association of Planning Schools.
Summary and recommendations for practiceIntroductionBattery-reared children: the extent of the problemThe confinement of children: possible causesPromising policies and practicesConclusion AcknowledgementReferences
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