Study Reveals More Children Are Walking to School

The number of children walking to school has increased 27 percent in the past five years, according to a new study by the National Center for Safe Routes to School.

  • Children Walking to School in Pennsylvania
    A group of students makes its way to Eisenhower Elementary in Camp Hill, Penn., on National Walk to School Day, 2012.
    Photo by International Walk to School

  • Children Walking to School in Pennsylvania

New research from the National Center for Safe Routes to School shows that increasing numbers of K-8 students are walking to school.

According to parent survey data collected from 2007 to 2012, the percentage of K-8 children walking 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 home from school in the afternoon increased from 15.8 percent to 19.7 percent (representing a 24 percent increase).

“We have heard anecdotally that more families are choosing active transportation for everyday trips, and this first-ever large dataset provides evidence that this is indeed the case for walking to school,” said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. “This encouraging news illustrates the importance of continuing to invest in building safer infrastructure, promoting safety awareness and continuing programs like Safe Routes to School.”

Another significant finding of this research was that the percentage of parents who reported that their child’s school supporting walking and biking to school 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,” Marchetti continued. “And, as nearly 15,000 schools have benefited from Safe Routes to School funding across the country, this is an exciting finding.”

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 D.C. from 2007 through 2012. The surveys represent more than 525,000 K-8 school children across the country.

4/25/2014 11:47:44 AM

When I was a kid, many children biked to school. The bikes racks were always full. When my children started going to school though, the bike racks were gone. One school actually said that children were not allowed to ride their bikes to school because they'd had too much problem with bike theft. The increase in kids walking to school doesn't surprise me though. Our general society finally becoming more aware of environmental issues, but I think another driving factor (no pun intended) is the fact that school buses, like many other school programs, have been cut back to make way for "standardized testing" preparation. We can do without some of the buses, but I miss the vocational skills classes.

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