Assessing travel time-based accessibility to outdoor ice skating fields for children in Helsinki during the COVID-19 pandemic

Charlotte van der Lijn*, Marisofia Nurmi*, Elina Hasanen, Janne Pyykönen, Lotta Salmi, Anna-katriina Salmikangas, Kirsi Vehkakoski, Ilkka Virmasalo, Tuuli Toivonen*, Petteri Muukkonen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Informal sport is central to Finnish children’s leisure and physical activity time. This paper aims to build a better understanding of the travel time-based accessibility to informal sports facilities, specifically to ice skating fields, for children and adolescents (aged 7–19) in the city of Helsinki. We focused on the winter of 2020–2021 because COVID-19 restrictions on indoor activities resulted in ice skating fields being among the few public facilities that could remain open. Additionally, the weather was favourable for maintaining outdoor ice skating fields. We analysed if there would be a difference in children’s independent travel times by public transport or walking to ice skating fields due to the COVID-19 pandemic related recommendations by Helsinki Region Transport to avoid public transport. Children in Finland usually travel to and from school independently. Hence we focused on the transition from public transport to walking and omitted car usage, which would require an adult. We also looked at the potential differences in travel time to ice skating fields by analysing different types of fields separately. This difference would be of significance if climate change resulted in warmer winters in Finland. Helsinki has two types of ice skating fields: naturally frozen and mechanically frozen, of which only the mechanically frozen fields would be used during a warmer winter that is above zero degrees Celsius. We took a geographic information systems (GIS) analysis approach using travel time and population catchments. The study’s main findings show that during a milder winter and by walking, the accessibility for children is greatly reduced to 55.2%; that is, children face an increased travel time when naturally frozen ice skating fields are not in use. However, almost 100% of the child population can access both types of fields within a travel time of 30 minutes by public transport.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-23
Number of pages18
JournalFennia - International Journal of Geography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2022


  • Covid-19
  • Spatial accessibility
  • Geographic information systems
  • Grid cell data
  • Ice skating
  • Informal sports
  • GIS


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing travel time-based accessibility to outdoor ice skating fields for children in Helsinki during the COVID-19 pandemic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this