Making children’s walks greener: the role of informal green spaces in home–school routes


  • Mojtaba Khanian Social-Ecological Systems Analysis Lab, Faculty of Economics and Sociology, University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland
  • Edyta Łaszkiewicz Social-Ecological Systems Analysis Lab, Faculty of Economics and Sociology, University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland
  • Jakub Kronenberg Social-Ecological Systems Analysis Lab, Faculty of Economics and Sociology, University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland


Green space planning, walkability, child-friendly cities, sustainable transportation




Urban green spaces are usually associated with parks, forests and street greenery. However important and noticeable they may be, these flagship green spaces do not dominate urban landscapes. What makes cities green is mainly informal green space – vegetated areas not formally recognised or protected, such as recultivated landfills, brownfields or semi-private and even private greenery. While there is no doubt about the importance of informal green spaces for urban sustainability and resilience, little is known about the extent to which they contribute to active transportation, for example making pedestrian walks greener and thus more attractive. Our study fills this gap by focusing on the role of informal green spaces in ensuring visual exposure to greenery during the walks.

We used the children’s home–school routes as an example to assess the visual exposure to different categories of informal green spaces during children’s walks. We conducted network and viewshed analyses for multiple spatially explicit data on primary school children, pedestrian street networks, and high-resolution urban green space maps using Lodz (Poland) as the case study city.

We found that informal green spaces leverage visual exposure to greenery during children’s home–school walks. The shortcuts through informal green spaces are an important part of children’s home–school routes. While street greenery and parks make the children’s routes greener in the city’s centre, informal green spaces play a particularly important role in enabling children to see the greenery in the city’s suburbia. This further shows the necessity of integrating different categories of green spaces into urban planning. Specifically, securing and formalizing informal green spaces is essential and could broadly support making urban transportation more sustainable. In particular, green corridors support non-motorised mobility by providing an attractive, healthy and safe opportunity to move around the city.


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