Thursday, October 8, 2015

Student Travel Survey Gives A Picture of How Children Are Getting to School

Here's something I've never heard of but wish I had before. The Washington State Student Travel survey was conducted in the spring of 2014 by the Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Department of Health. It asked parents how children, in kindergarten through 8th grade, get to and from school on a regular basis. It also asked for possible barriers to walking, biking, or riding the bus. 

Results show that overall, 44 percent of children in kindergarten through 8th grade ride the school bus, 38 percent are dropped off by a family member or friend, 15 percent walk and less than one percent ride their bikes. 

About a third of students live within one mile of school and over half live within two miles of school. As expected, those that live within one mile are more likely to walk (39%) or bicycle (3%) than those who live further away. When asked about barriers that keep children from walking or biking to school, more than 50 percent of the children who responded said distance, the age of the child (too young), unsafe roads to cross, convenience of driving, poor weather, speed or amount of traffic along the route, time, and a lack of sidewalks.

The most common reasons parents said their children didn't ride the school bus was that the bus was not available (46%) or that it was not available at the right time.

Very interesting. My neighborhood is a fair distance from all three schools so the majority of children ride the bus (and I know because I get stuck behind it almost every day). But what kills me is that, from my observation, a large number of parents also drive their children to the bus stop. Which I find odd because, as far as I can tell, not many of the students live far from the stop; probably a block or so. I know this because I also get stuck behind the parents as they're pulling out of their driveways, then stop in the middle of the road a block later to let their kids out at the bus stop. 

If you would like to see more results and recommendations from the Washington State Student Travel Survey, the full report is here. 


Charles Hansen said...

Wow so few walking or riding their bikes, I see a lot of walkers and a few bikes since I am 3 blocks from a grade school and 4 blocks from a high school, so I have a rather different perspective, but I see a lot of cars at the grade school every day and at least two school buses. I do see a lot on skate boards also.
I rode my bike to junior high since it was just over a mile from my home, and a lot of bikes were there every day then.

SRTC Staff said...

It's kind of discouraging how many students are being dropped off at school everyday by parents or friends. Ryan in our office said he road his bike to pick up his child at school recently and got a lot of raised-eyebrow looks from the MANY cars lined up to pick up children. We always walked to school in elementary school, then rode the bus to junior high and high school so it's a different world to me. It is cool though to hear that some kids are skateboarding to school!

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.