Crossing roads, crossing boundaries: Empowerment and participation in a child pedestrian safety initiative

  • Published: Space and Polity, Vol.7 No.2, 2003
  • Authors: R.A. Kearns and D.C.A. Collins
  • Date Added: 15 Mar 2013
  • Last Update: 15 Mar 2013
  • Format: pdf


To critique the Walking School Bus (WSB) phenomenon, with particular reference to the initiative adopted by a primary school in Auckland, New Zealand.


Review of ideas regarding children’s political participation and schooling.Outline the development of the WSB concept.Presentation of a case example, reviewing the development and outcomes of a WSB in Auckland.

Key Findings:

  • WSBs are a potentially attractive alternative to car travel for many parents, as they offer adult supervision at the same time as they tap into frustration over traffic congestion and many children’s desire for active travel and an increasing awareness of the benefits of exercise.

  • For children, the benefits of the walking bus appear to centre on sociability as well as fulfilling internalised expectations regarding good health and safe behaviour, while for adults the benefits are perhaps more subtle.

  • For the school, it satisfies a concern for safety that extends beyond the school gate as well as a desire to be seen as concerned with safety.


School, walking, safety, traffic.


Interesting information on WSBs but little reference to the associated safety benefits.