New research from the National Center for Safe Routes to School – based on parent survey data collected by nearly 4,700 U.S. schools from 2007 to 2012 – shows that more K-8 students across the country are walking to and from school.
According to the data, the percentage of K-8 children who walked to school in the morning increased from 12.4 percent to 15.7 percent (representing a 27 percent increase). Similarly, the percentage of K-8 children who walked from school in the afternoon increased from 15.8 percent to 19.7 percent (representing a 24 percent increase).
Another significant finding of this research was that the percentage of parents who reported that their child’s school supporting walking and bicycling for the school commute rose from 24.9 percent to 33 percent.
“School support for walking and biking is an important element in parents’ decisions to allow or to encourage their children to make this transportation choice,” said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. “And, as nearly 15,000 schools have benefited from Safe Routes to School funding across the country, this is an exciting finding. Together, schools, families and communities can help integrate physical activity into daily life.”
The full report, Trends in Walking and Bicycling to School from 2007 to 2012, analyzed parent survey data collected by nearly 4,700 schools located in all states and DC from 2007 through 2012. The surveys represent more than 525,000 K-8 school children across the country. Parent surveys are not considered representative of all households, instead they give insight into communities where walking to school was slightly more feasible than average (for example, rural schools are under-represented in the study). Surveys came from schools with ranging amounts of SRTS activity, from those seeking SRTS funds to get started to those actively conducting SRTS programs.
The complete study and a companion piece for practitioners, Trends in Walking and Bicycling to School: Takeaways for Building Successful Programs, are available online at www.saferoutesinfo.org/program-tools/school-travel-trends-2007-to-2012. A news release is also available.