The Smart School Commuting is a programme to promote active school travel, designed by LIKES Research Centre for Physical Activity and Health, Motiva and a network of local authorities that promote cycling. The programme works in partnership with the Finnish Schools on the Move programme. These organisations have been developing smarter school travel since 2018. Their aim is to reduce car use for school journeys, decrease transport emissions, increase the daily amount of physical activity children and young people engage in, and increase cooperation, both within local authorities and at the national level.

A growing number of Finnish children are not getting enough physical activity. By increasing active travel to and from school and during the school day, children and young people can engage in smart physical activity while reducing their carbon footprint. Now only one in three children and young people get the recommended amount of physical activity, that is, at least one hour a day.

Age and season have a significant impact on the chosen modes of transport

While children and young people walk or cycle the majority of school journeys of less than one kilometre (90%), active travel accounts for 78% for school journeys of 1–3 kilometres and for only 45% when the distance is 3–5 kilometres. In addition to the length of the journey, the person’s age and the time of the year have a significant impact on whether children and young people choose an active mode of travel or whether they are driven to school by their parents or carers. In winter, the number of active school journeys drops by a quarter from the time when there is no snow on the ground. When it comes to smart travel, there are major differences between schools and regions.

One fifth of Finnish emissions comes from transport, and traffic volumes are expected to rise significantly in the coming years. Smart travel means any active mode of travel, such as walking, cycling, scooting or cross-country skiing. Smart school commuting also includes public transport, as it usually increases the amount of incidental physical activity, and in particular reduces the carbon footprint compared to car use.

A sedentary lifestyle has significant negative effects on the wellbeing of children and young people as well as on society as a whole. The social cost of inactivity is estimated to rise to at least EUR 3.2 billion each year.

According to an international study, about 50% of intense exercise children engage in takes place during the journey to and from school. For example, by walking or cycling a three-kilometre round trip to school, children can achieve 40% to 60% of the recommended daily amount of endurance exercise.

More information:
Mr. Joonas Niemi
Programme coordinator
Phone: +358 5052 769

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