Discusses the spatial distribution of students and schools as the primary reason for the low rates of walking to school. For example, in 1969 45% of elementary school students lived less than a mile from their school; today fewer than 24% live within this distance. When children do live close to school, substantial numbers walk. However, current policies aimed at increasing walking to school focus on improving trip safety rather than changing distance to school. The author's calculations showed that densities had to be above 1,000 to 2,000 people per square mile to make short school trips possible for large numbers of students. The fact that 41% of American children live at densities of less than 1,000 limits the opportunities for integrating school and land use planning to reintroduce physical activity into children's lives. This finding should not discourage planners from working to design communities where children can walk to school. But it should cause them to focus their efforts on places where this outcome is a realistic possibility.
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