Cycling children are healthy children; healthy children are happy children

The number of lifestyle-related diseases is on the rise. However, socio-economic studies show that there is a lot to be gained by learning healthy transport habits from an early age—both in terms of fitness ratings and good spirits.

By Malene Kofod Nielsen, COWI, and Connie Juel Clausen, Municipality of Odense

Updating the evidence A systematic review of what works in preventing childhood unintentional injuries: Part 2

Injuries in the home environment Four recent studies focus on the prevention of home accidents at a general level. [1-4] These papers suggest that, while educational campaigns and equipment loan schemes may be potentially effective in terms of promoting behavioural change, there is little evidence that injury reductions are achieved by these means (table 1). There is increasing evidence from the United States of the positive effect of campaigns promoting the use of smoke alarms (table 2). [5-9] A smoke alarm giveaway programme in the central area of Oklahoma City, where there was a high fire risk, showed an 80% annual injury rate decline from 15.3/100 000 to 3.1/100 000, compared with a slight increase in the rest of the city. [5] The authors point out that, "interventions that target areas with high rates of fires may be especially efficient ways to lower the incidence of injuries and deaths from residential fires". This is the first community based study to demonstrate the effectiveness of a smoke alarm promotion programme on health outcomes. There is also evidence that smoke alarm promotion programmes lead to changes in behaviour which are sustained over a long period of time (3-4 years), resulting in greater numbers of households with functioning smoke alarms. [7]
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Developing School-based Cycle Trains in New Zealand,

Working with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and North Shore City Council on the ‘Travelwise to School’ pilot project on the North Shore in 2002, we surveyed the parent community to ascertain their interest in various alternative modes for their children’s travel to and from school. We found that 87 of the 184 families who responded would allow their children to cycle to school in a group with another adult supervising their ride. One-third of these families offered to supervise the children on a rostered basis. This suggested that there was a high, albeit latent, interest in the wider community in what we call the ‘cycle train’. Because of this interest, we undertook to implement cycle train networks in New Zealand schools. The cycle train is similar in approach to another alternative way of getting children to and from school, the ‘walking school bus’ (WSB), where adult ‘conductors’ walk along a set route to school, collecting children from designated ‘bus stops’. The cycle train is essentially a ‘walking school bus’ on bicycle wheels.