Trends in Walking and Bicycling to School from 2007 to 2012

Soon after the establishment of the Federal SRTS Program in 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School launched a data collection system to support local program planning and evaluation and to monitor student commute patterns nationwide. Seven years after the start of the Federal program, the National Center analyzed more than 525,000 parent surveys from nearly 4,700 schools to look for changes in travel patterns and parent perceptions about walking to school.

Two key findings from the analyses include:

  • Walking to and from school increased significantly between 2007 and 2012, from 12.4% to 15.7% in the morning and from 15.8% to 19.7% in the afternoon.
  • The percentage of parents who reported that their child’s school supported walking and bicycling for the school commute rose from 24.9% to 33%. Parents who felt that their child’s school supported walking and bicycling were more likely to have children who used these modes.

The 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 full report and a two-page version are available here. The full report, “Trends in Walking and Bicycling to School from 2007 to 2012,” describes all of the findings. The two-page “Trends in Walking and Bicycling to School: Takeaways for Building Successful Programs,” offers ideas for SRTS leaders, stakeholders and funders that could strengthen new and existing SRTS programs based on the study findings.

Authoring Organization: 
National Center for Safe Routes to School
Author: 
National Center for Safe Routes to School
Publication Year: 
13

Explore other program tools: