Exploring the potential of urban (re)form: Modifying gated communities to shorten school travel distance in Nanjing, China

Lingyun Han, Zhen Xu, Clive Sabel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    The distance between home and school considerably influences the probability of children’s walking or biking to school (termed Active School Travel) which is a significant opportunity to promote their daily physical activity. This study investigated the shortest routes from home to school of primary school students and how the route distance can be shortened at the household level in Nanjing, China. We found that gated urban form results in significantly roundabout routes to school. In 2016, China issued the Opening and Prohibiting Gated Communities policy, subsequently the Healthy Cities Initiative, etc. which may leverage cities towards more healthy and sustainable transformations. In the light of these policies, we hypothesised that providing through access as management option, and opening new entries as reengineering option, would shorten school travel distance with minor costs. The scenario analysis shows that such management and reengineering adaptions would provide shorter and potentially less exposed routes for students. This study identifies how the existent urban form works against active school travel, and proposes how salutogenic pathways may be created in the gated urban form. The study, with transferability to other cities, can assist urban designers and policy makers in piloting urban (re)form incrementally and pragmatically to prompt active travel to schools.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2536-2553
    Number of pages18
    JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


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