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Attitudes to walking and cycling among children, young people and parents: a systematic review

Abstract

Background: Promoting walking and cycling as a part of everyday activity is seen as a strategy for tackling obesity and chronic disease. Policy needs to be based on evidence about people’s views of walking and cycling as well as effects of interventions.

Methods: Studies of the views of children, young people and parents about walking and cycling were searched for systematically, and a framework analysis applied. The findings were synthesised and compared with the findings of an effectiveness review of interventions for encouraging walking and cycling as an alternative to motorised transport.

Results: The synthesis of views described a culture of car use, fed by a fear and dislike of local environments and parental responses that emphasised children’s safety at the expense of developing their independence, despite children expressing responsible attitudes towards transport choices. Comparison with effectiveness literature found that most evaluated interventions targeted only the public’s fear and dislike of local environments.

Conclusion: Interventions need to address pedestrian and cyclist safety, perceptions of risk, and parental norms regarding children’s independence.

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