Why Kids Don’t Walk To School

For today’s kids, walking or biking to school has become the exception rather than the rule.

A study by Anna Price and colleagues, published in the Journal of School Health, now explores the perceptions of school administrators in South Carolina regarding the factors that influence childrens’ active travel to school.

According to their survey of 314 school and district leaders of elementary and middle schools, the two most commonly raised issues were concerns about the safety of crossing streets (54%) and the availability of sidewalks (54%).

Additional factors included distance to school (46%), traffic volume (42%), parental attitudes (27%), traffic speed (27%), neighborhood condition (24%), and student attitudes (10%).

Some respondents also expressed concerns about liability issues related to students’ active travel to school.

Overall, the survey left no doubt about the considerable concerns of schools administrators about the safety of students while walking to school.

Based on these findings, the researchers suggest that active travel to school may be increased by addressing the (perceived?) safety of street crossing and the number of sidewalks, and by educating school and district leaders about liability and safety issues related to students walking to school.

If my readers can think of other barriers or novel ideas how to address them, I’d certainly love to hear them.

Edmonton, Alberta

Price AE, Pluto DM, Ogoussan O, & Banda JA (2011). School Administrators’ Perceptions of Factors That Influence Children’s Active Travel to School. The Journal of school health, 81 (12), 741-748 PMID: 22070505