Organized youth sports and commuting behavior (2018)

This study explored the travel behaviors related to participation in a youth swim team and the carbon footprint of commuting to practices. It was found that participants spent an average of 106 min/week in car transport, accounting for 28% of the participant’s average driving time per week. The environmental impact of this youth sport program annually is about 400 tonnes of CO2eq.

Additional notes:

- Although 70% of parents/guardians reported driving a vehicle that could accommodate 7+ passengers, carpooling among families living in close proximity (0–5, 5–10, 10–15 miles) to a facility was somewhat low: most parents/guardians reported they transported 1–2 other children to/from practices and 25% of parents transported 4 or more children per trip.

- The large geographic area of the swim team’s membership in this sample (582 square miles) resulted in large variations in trip distance and travel time.

The authors propose that assigning children to practice at the closest facility to their homes could reduce emissions from sport-related travel by up to 12% whereas upgrading vehicle gas mileage efficiency could reduce emissions by 40%. Carpooling would also alleviate the overall carbon footprint of the organization.

Cite: Bunds, K. S., Kanters, M. A., Venditti, R. A., Rajagopalan, N., Casper, J. M., & Carlton, T. A. (2018). Organized youth sports and commuting behavior: The environmental impact of decentralized community sports facilities. Transportation Research Part D, 65, 387–395.

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