Facts & Figures

Kids Activity Pyramid

In Austria, one out of five children is overweight and one out of ten is considered obese. Increased energy intake alone is not responsible, but rather too little exercise, as the German Sports University in Cologne concluded in their study of primary schools as part of a CHILT 1 (Children's Health Interventional Trial) project in 2001. While children used to walk, ride a scooter or bicycle by themselves to school, they are now being taken more and more frequently to school by car. This is reinforcing a tendency towards physical inertia and worsening health problems such as poor circulation and obesity.

The Sports University in Cologne developed, therefore, a kids activity pyramid based on the kids food pyramid, with the aim of providing a child and family friendly way to motivate children to exercise more.

The foundation of this kids activity pyramid is walking or bicycling daily (to school, recreational activities, the store, etc.). Participating in sports clubs once or twice a week cannot replace daily physical activity and that's why it's only at the tip of the pyramid.

The Car Dominates our Daily Life.In Austria, every second transportation route is traveled by car and one in three by walking or cycling. If you consider the resources used for public relations and advertising for the different modes of transport, nine of 10 euros is used for the automobile sector and only one of 100 euros for active modes of transportation. This also explains the strong dominance of cars in the media world.
An analysis of transportation choices in children's rooms also demonstrates the strong dominance of toy cars (two thirds of all transportation toys), whereby cars are more strongly represented in boys' rooms than in girls' rooms.
This means that both advertising and early socialization are currently leading us toward a car dominated transportation culture.

Social Activities in Soft Mobility Living EnvironmentsIt makes a crucial difference whether children grow up in a busy traffic area or quiet living environment. The opportunity to play in the neighborhood not only improves the development of children's physical abilities, but also increases their cognitive performance and especially helps them develop social skills.
Children who grow up in a traffic free environment have four times more friends than children in a congested traffic environment.
And their parents have significantly more social contacts as well.

How Kids Like to Get Around Most
Wishes and Realities in Cycling

The fact is that children want to ride a bike but often are not allowed to, as shown by an online survey of public school students in Graz (www.schoolway.net). 33% of children say the bicycle is their favorite mode of transportation to school. But, in fact, only 11% of children ride a bike to school. So if children had their say, three times as many kids would travel by bicycle. If it were up to the kids, bicycle transportation would be much more important. The transport behavior of adults, however, restricts the ability of children to travel actively on their own.
Parents worry that the roads are too dangerous for their children to ride bicycles. At the same time, many of these parents themselves are contributing a significant percentage to this risk.
Improved bicycle paths, traffic calming measures in school areas, and the formation of cycling clubs help improve the situation.

The Traffic Snake Game for All Elementary School Grades

The Traffic Snake Game is especially appropriate for elementary schools. This activity, in which the whole school can participate, promotes the independent daily mobility of children and, by reducing car traffic in school areas, leads to a safer, more attractive and healthier school route.
Each school class sets its own realistic goal of how many car trips can be reduced within a week of activity. For one week the students then go to school mainly by foot, by bicycle or by using public transportation.
The game is perfect for promoting further measures and activities related to environmentally-friendly mobility behavior.
It can be implemented by using a particular theme or motto regardless of the school grade. Themes for the first and second grades, for example, can aim at making walking more attractive. (Such as "Walking clubs" or "Walking busses " (in which groups of children walk to school with one or more adults)) In the third and fourth grade, the theme can be "Public Transportation" - with exercises in reading bus schedules, trip planning with public transport, entering and exiting safely, etc. -The theme of "cycling" may be treated in the fourth grade especially in order to prepare for the bicycling test.


The Impact of the Traffic Snake Game on the Mobility Behavior of Children

An immediate and positive effect of the Traffic Snake Game is the reduction of car traffic in school areas, and a discussion at school and at home on road safety, mobility and healthy behavior.
A study under the EU project CONNECT showed that the proportion of children who are taken to school by car could be halved by the Traffic Snake Game. Some schools could even encourage "homemade" traffic caused by parents to completely shift to environmentally friendly modes of mobility.
During the Traffic Snake game 96% of all school routes (previously 80%) could be completed in an environmentally friendly way. Car traffic was reduced by 80%, which corresponds to a change of -16%-points in the modal split of the schools. This reduction of car kilometers means that schools helped cut CO2 emissions by 9 tons.


Impact of the Traffic Snake Game on Chaperoning Activities of Parents

Inspired by the Traffic Snake Game considerably more children are involved in the local environment and could get to school either independently (not accompanied by or driven by parents) or together with other children and young people. The proportion of independent distances traveled has increased sevenfold from 8% to 54%! In return, parental chaperone services decreased by 48%. (66% of parents chaperoned their children before starting the Traffic Snake Game compared to 18% by the end of the game.)
Kids would build walking and cycling groups for the Traffic Snake Game that continued to exist afterwards. This also helped encourage children develop their social skills.