Because it is important for children’s health, it is important to understand the motivations, supports and barriers for children to join cycling mobility. Why do children engage in cycling mobility? The individual and interpersonal characteristics of age, gender, family and peer’s support seem to influence the relation with the bike (Thigpen & Handy, 2018). Built environment and cycling policies also have a role in bicycle use (Larouche & Ghekiere, 2018). In addition, there are several school programs active around the world that aim to encourage bike mobility. What do we know about of all these elements and how do they connect? How does gender play a role in this? And how new cycling policies and social promotion initiatives will interact with them? I propose to start by a literature review to analyze what has been researched in this field and continue by deepen into cycling programs that involve families, the birth and upkeep of gender gap and on the experiences of cycling together during childhood.
Children that Cycle
Children have been called indicator species of city health (Voce, 2018). The presence of children in public spaces and their wellbeing seems to signal healthy urban spaces and good practices in urban design, planning and democratic governance (UNICEF, 2022). And what is good for children will ultimately improve the wellbeing for all. Yet, ensuring child health and safety in cities remains an aspiration rather than a reality. Each year, thousands of children are injured on city streets, with motor transportation the first cause of death in people aged 5-29 (World Health Organization, 2018). Fear of unsafe interactions with motor vehicles has kept children indoors rather than on city streets and explaining children’s loss of independent mobility in cities (Riazi & Faulkner, 2018).
The lack of children’s independent mobility, which is an active mobility, has also contributed to a global obesity epidemic among youth (Wang & Lobstein, 2006). Children are not engaging in the physical activity required for a healthy lifestyle, and a strategy to invert this is to make them engage in active transportation (Larouche et al., 2014; Wang & Lobstein, 2006), which is a significant source of physical activity for children and teenagers (Voss, 2018). However, girls and boys participate differently of this active mobility, with girls reporting far less cycling and walking (Mertens & Ghekiere, 2018). On top of that, motor vehicles in cities deteriorate the air quality that children breath, which does not meet the health standards in most cities of the world (UN Habitat, 2016). For this, reducing car use and upgrading the cycling and walking infrastructure improves the quality of public space, air quality, and people’s mental and physical health (Garrard et al., 2021), which in turn can encourage parents to let their children engage in active transportation (Larouche & Tranter, 2018)
Garrard, J., Rissel, C., Bauman, A., & Giles-Corti, B. (2021). Cycling and Health. In R. Buehler & J. R. Pucher (Eds.), Cycling for Sustainable Cities (pp. 35–55). The MIT Press.
Larouche, R., & Ghekiere, A. (2018). An ecological model of active transportation. In Children’s Active Transportation (pp. 93–103). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-811931-0.00006-5
Larouche, R., Saunders, T. J., Faulkner, G. E. J., Colley, R., & Tremblay, M. (2014). Associations between active school transport and physical activity, body composition, and cardiovascular fitness: A systematic review of 68 studies. In Journal of Physical Activity and Health (Vol. 11, Issue 1, pp. 206–227). https://doi.org/10.1123/jpah.2011-0345
Larouche, R., & Tranter, P. (2018). Conclusion. In Children’s Active Transportation (pp. 259–266). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-811931-0.00018-1
Mertens, L., & Ghekiere, A. (2018). Individual correlates of active transportation. In Children’s Active Transportation (pp. 105–114). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-811931-0.00007-7
Riazi, N. A., & Faulkner, G. (2018). Children’s independent mobility. In Children’s Active Transportation (pp. 77–91). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-811931-0.00005-3
Thigpen, C., & Handy, S. (2018). Effects of Building a Stock of Bicycling Experience in Youth. Transportation Research Record, 2672(36), 12–23. https://doi.org/10.1177/0361198118796001
UN Habitat. (2016). Global report on urban health: equitable healthier cities for sustainable development. World Health Organization.
UNICEF. (2022, April 25). What is the Child Friendly Cities Initiative? Childfriendlycities.Org.
Voce, A. (2018). Cities Alive: Designing for Urban Childhoods. Children, Youth and Environments, 28(2), 78. https://doi.org/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.28.2.0078
Voss, C. (2018). Public health benefits of active transportation. In Children’s Active Transportation (pp. 1–20). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-811931-0.00001-6
Wang, Y., & Lobstein, T. (2006). Worldwide trends in childhood overweight and obesity. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, 1(1), 11–25. https://doi.org/10.1080/17477160600586747
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