Between “broken windows” and the “eyes on the street:” walking to school in inner city San Diego

Huê Tâm Webb Jamme, Deepak Bahl, Tridib Banerjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


While research on active school travel usually focuses on physical activity benefits, this study proposes a conceptual framework to understand children's well-being, cognitive development, and community life associated with walking to school in an inner-city neighborhood. A series of children-centered activities (surveys, cognitive mapping, and focus groups) revealed that students who walk to school develop an acute understanding of their environment and a distinct sense of community. They feel comfortable with “eyes on the street” of residents, shopkeepers, and patrons but they express discomfort in the presence of “broken windows,” i.e. cues of social disorder in the built environment. Their major concerns are about gangs and crime. Policies promoting walking to school should be responsive to these social milieu aspects and aim at communities’ overall well-being rather than focusing just on children's physical health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-138
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
StatePublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Affordances
  • Mixed methods
  • Neighborhood risks
  • Walking to school

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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