Background The child active transportation literature has focused on walking, with little attention to risk associated with increased traffic exposure. This paper reviews the literature related to built environment correlates of walking and pedestrian injury in children together, to broaden the current conceptualization of walkability to include injury prevention.
Methods Two independent searches were conducted focused on walking in children and child pedestrian injury within nine electronic databases until March, 2012. Studies were included which: 1) were quantitative 2) set in motorized countries 3) were either urban or suburban 4) investigated specific built environment risk factors 5) had outcomes of either walking in children and/or child pedestrian roadway collisions (ages 0-12). Built environment features were categorized according to those related to density, land use diversity or roadway design. Results were cross-tabulated to identify how built environment features associate with walking and injury.
Results Fifty walking and 35 child pedestrian injury studies were identified. Only traffic calming and presence of playgrounds/recreation areas were consistently associated with more walking and less pedestrian injury. Several built environment features were associated with more walking, but with increased injury. Many features had inconsistent results or had not been investigated for either outcome.
Conclusions The findings emphasise the importance of incorporating safety into the conversation about creating more walkable cities.
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