An Exploration of Children’s Independent Mobility in Post-socialist Urban Environment, The Case of Riga, Latvia
Independent mobility beyond home provides children with an opportunity to acquire valuable spatial experience. Autonomous
movements within public space enhance locomotor capability and promote development of spatial cognition for younger children as well
as allow to improve social skills and construct identities for teenagers. However, nowadays this type of interaction with environment and
the gain from it is endangered by manifestations of late modernity, based on increased use of cars in the everyday transport of children
and parents’ enforced concerns on child’s safety. The aim of this paper is to explore the level of independent mobility of children aged 12
to 17 in Riga, the capital city of Latvia and to examine a wide range of background variables (such as gender, distance, ethnicity, age,
place of residence, etc.) previously shown to have an influence on children’s trips to school, friends and leisure activities. In this study
the quantitative data was used to explain children’s independent mobility within urban spatial domain. The data was derived by a
questionnaire survey from children aged 12 to 17 in eight randomly sampled urban schools in Riga. The findings of this study reveal that
age, gender and distance from home to school as well as parents’ travel behavior are crucial factors which can prohibit or encourage
children’s independent mobility.
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