The Environmental Barriers to Active School Travel Among Private School Students in Dubai
ElBendary, Neveen Hassan
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Childhood obesity rates are increasing, partly caused by a deficiency of physical activity (PA). Active school travel (AST) is one way to counteract this, but its rates are globally dropping. Little is known about AST situation in the Middle Eastern countries generally and the UAE in particular. This study investigates the influence of different environmental factors on the decision between active and inactive school travel modes, and identifies the built environment barriers to AST among private school students in the Dubai emirate. Using a quantitative research approach, parents of 408 students attending different private schools in Dubai completed an online questionnaire. The statistical analysis determined significant correlation between school travel behaviours and most of the suggested influencing factors including distance, time length of the school trip, built environment features, parent perceptions of the built environment features, weather conditions, and parent perceptions of AST. Distance is the most influencing factor on the travel mode choices, followed by weather and time length of the trip to/from school. Among built environment features, street connectivity and traffic calming measures are significant factors. Since most of the private school students in Dubai are living beyond the walking distance threshold, it may be concluded that distance between home and school is the main barrier to AST.