Pedestrian Traffic Safety and Outdoor Active Play Among 10-13 Year Olds in a Mid-Sized Canadian City
Abstract Objectives: This study examined the associations between objective and perceived measures of pedestrian traffic safety in the home neighbourhood with outdoor active play among 10- to 13-year-olds. It also determined if the association between objectively measured pedestrian safety and outdoor active play is moderated by parents’ perceptions of pedestrian safety. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 10- to 13-year-olds (N = 458) from Kingston, ON, Canada (population 123,798). Outdoor active play was measured over 7 consecutive days using a combination of data from activity logs, accelerometers, Global Positioning System loggers, and Geographic Information System. 1 km road network buffers were used to define participants’ home neighbourhoods. Within these buffers Geographic Information System software and data were used to create traffic volume, traffic calming, traffic speed, pedestrian infrastructure, and overall pedestrian safety indexes. Parents’ perceptions of these pedestrian safety domains were obtained by questionnaire. General linear models were used to examine the relationships of interest. Several covariates were adjusted for in these models. Results: The average outdoor active play was 38.3 min/day (27.6 SD). The overall perceived and objective pedestrian safety indexes were not associated with outdoor active play (p > 0.1); however, significant associations were observed for some of the specific domains of pedestrian safety. Children whose parents perceived moderate or high traffic speeds in their neighbourhood had outdoor active play values that were 0.35 (SE=0.10, p=0.021) and 0.20 (SE=0.15, p=0.048) SD units higher, respectively, than children whose parents perceived low traffic speed. By comparison to children from neighbourhoods in the lowest tertile, children from the highest traffic volume tertile had higher outdoor active play levels (0.26, SE=0.12, p=0.029), while children from neighbourhoods in the moderate traffic calming tertile (-0.28, SE=0.11, p=0.008) and the moderate pedestrian infrastructure tertile (-0.25, SE=0.11, p=0.023) had lower outdoor active play levels. There were no interactions between the objective and perceived measures (p>0.05). Conclusions: In this study of 10- to 13-year-olds from a mid-sized city there was some albeit inconsistent evidence that outdoor active play was lower in children residing in the most pedestrian safe neighbourhoods.
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