Rights activists and environmentalists said at a programme on Thursday, that if students walked to their schools they could be free from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Citing a study, they also noted that brain function increases after a 20 minute walk, depression declines, and attention improves in studying.
The views exchange programme, 'What to Do to Ensure a Safe Environment to Walk to School to Control NCDs,' was held Thursday at the National Press Club in the capital.
Astrazeneca, Car Free Cities, and Work for a Better Bangladesh, jointly organized the programme.
A team of the Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology (BUET) presented the findings of their survey of students walking to school. The survey was conducted at Rayerbazar and Khilkhet of Dhaka.
The students made 10 recommendations for safe movement to schools, including removal of electric poles and roadside parking, cleaning garbage and goods by the roadside, increasing greenery in front of houses, and putting in pocket parks by the roadside.
The survey found that 80% of students in the capital live within a 15 minute walk to school. Of them, 30% walk to school, though 95% of students in the city's poorer neighbourhoods go to school on foot. Only 4% students use private cars contributing to severe traffic congestion.
Urban experts say that if a city is accessible and safe for eight year old children and 80 year old persons, then it is accessible and safe for all.
Paribesh Bachao Andolon (POBA) Chairman, Abu Naser Khan, said students are reluctant to walk to school because of inadequate, dilapidated, uneven footpaths, lacking proper road crossings. Both political advocacy and academic research are needed to solve these problems.