Ron Buliung helps make kids' trips to school more active and accessible

Ron Buliung
Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - 9:23am
Romi Levine

Ever since he was a child and first learned how to ride a bike, it’s been hard to slow down Ron Buliung.

Now a professor of geography and planning at U of T Mississauga, Buliung is an avid cyclist. He is also committed to finding ways to help kids become more active.

For almost a decade, with the help of public funding, Buliung has been looking at how children get to and from school.

“I wanted to hear the voices of kids and help to bring their voices into the conversation about city-building in Toronto, but also across the region,” he says.

Backed by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Buliung and two U of T researchers from the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, Associate Professor Caroline Fusco and Professor Guy Faulkner, talked to kids and their families across the Greater Toronto Area about the social and environmental factors that affect school travel. (Faulkner is now at the University of British Columbia.)

“We think about childhood as the time in your life when you learn foundational skills,” says Buliung. “There's an opportunity there for children to engage with their environment in different ways and acquire the skills that allow them to incorporate, if it's physically possible, walking, cycling and other things into the set of alternatives that are available to them for moving around.”

His research into kids’ commutes continued with funding from Metrolinx, Southern Ontario’s transportation planning agency. The study showed that more than twice the number of students are now driven to and from school compared with 25 years ago.

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