A model for star rating school walking routes
Walking is fundamental to mobility, but its perceived importance as a transport mode has fallen dramatically in past decades. The potential benefits of walking for society are numerous, including improved health, reduced traffic and congestion and enhanced social connections. It has become a community health priority to introduce some of these benefits to children by encouraging active transport to and from school. While walking should be encouraged, pedestrians are vulnerable road users, with one of the biggest potential injury threats being road crossing points and it is therefore vitally important to ensure that children can select safe locations to cross roads. To assist community members to select safe walking routes for children, a model and iPhone/iPad app to rate the safety of individual road crossings were devised, based on the ‘star rating’ concept familiar to many. The model considered the evidence-based key determinants of pedestrian crash and injury risk at individual road crossings. Based on established relationships and expert consensus, the variables were combined mathematically to generate a star rating between zero and five for each crossing point along a route. While the model is designed primarily in recognition of the abilities and limitations of children, it could also be adapted to other walking populations and road environments. This paper presents the methods undertaken to develop the resource, some sample results and discusses the implications and opportunities for its use to enhance the safety of all pedestrian groups.