Parental Traffic Safeguarding at School Sites: Unequal Risks and Responsibilities


  • Arlene Tigar McLaren Simon Fraser University
  • Sylvia Parusel Simon Fraser University



automobility, illusion of traffic safety, parenting, social inequality, gender, school traffic safety, streetscapes


Based on a comparison of two public elementary schools located on the east and west sides of Vancouver, British Columbia, the paper explores the effects of spatial and social contexts on parents’ school traffic safety practices. By taking into account the dynamics of gender and social class in different geographies of mobility at the two schools, we illustrate how parents’ (especially mothers’) daily concerns, practices and volunteerism reflect unequal risks and responsibilities in safeguarding children from motorized traffic. We also suggest that despite geographical differences and social inequalities, auto-centred environments and traffic safety governance create remarkably similar parental mobility concerns at the two schools, reflecting the stratifying effects of automobility. Our analysis of the troubling effects of the automobility system underscores the importance of acknowledging how parental traffic safety practices contribute to the illusion of traffic safety and to the necessity of challenging auto hegemony.

Author Biographies

Arlene Tigar McLaren, Simon Fraser University

Arlene Tigar McLaren is Professor Emerita in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Simon Fraser University.

Sylvia Parusel, Simon Fraser University

Sylvia Parusel is a Ph.D. Sociology student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Simon Fraser University.