A look at adolescent mobility



Tell me where you live, and I'll tell you how you get around: such is the reality of adolescents living in the Greater Montréal area.

There is a marked difference in the realities of adolescents residing in Montréal's downtown neighbourhoods and those living in the suburbs.

The work of city planner Juan Torres, a researcher at Université de Montréal, has shown that adolescents are not all in the same boat when it comes to mobility.

A study carried out from 2013-2015 involving 69 high school students aged 12 to 17 in Sainte-Julie, Laval and Montréal revealed a marked difference in the realities of adolescents residing in Montréal's downtown neighbourhoods and those living in the suburbs.

The urban design of downtown neighbourhoods favours travel on foot, and public transport is readily available. Adolescents living there gain a great deal of mobility as soon as they enter high school. They walk a lot, use public transport, and frequently travel alone. This allows them to progressively develop their autonomy well before obtaining a driver's license.

Outside of these neighbourhoods, while adolescents get around just as much, their trips are more often accompanied, and less often on foot or by bike. They are impatient to obtain a driver's license, which represents a form of independence with regard to their parents, albeit one that is acquired very suddenly, contrary to adolescents in downtown neighbourhoods.

The study also shows the role of the smartphone, which is an extremely useful tool for adolescents when planning trips. This device is used to get familiar with a neighbourhood, to plan a route, to navigate and to organize meeting up with friends.

These findings have been presented at international scientific events and to organizations such as the Société de transport de Montréal and Vélo Québec, who use them to better target their actions in support of public transport, walking and cycling.