Initiatives to increase active school transportation are popular. However, increased walking to school could increase collision risk. The built environment is related to both pedestrian collision risk and walking to school. We examined the influence of the built environment on walking to school and child pedestrian collisions in Toronto, Canada.
Police-reported pedestrian collision data from 2002 to 2011 for children ages 4 to 12, proportion of children walking to school, and built environment data were mapped onto school attendance boundaries. Collision rates were calculated by using 2006 census populations and modeled by using negative binomial regression.
There were 481 collisions with a mean collision rate of 7.4/10 000 children per year. The relationship between walking proportion and collision rate was not statistically significant after adjusting for population density and roadway design variables including multifamily dwelling density, traffic light, traffic calming and 1-way street density, school crossing guard presence, and school socioeconomic status.
Pedestrian collisions are more strongly associated with built environment features than with proportions walking. Road design features were related to higher collision rates and warrant further examination for their safety effects for children. Future policy designed to increase children’s active transportation should be developed from evidence that more clearly addresses child pedestrian safety.