The Decline of Walking to School

In 1969, nearly half of American children walked or biked to school. Today's figure is 13%.

A variety of factors are blamed on the decline of children walking to school: crime concerns, missing or damaged sidewalks, inconvenience, unsafe crosswalks, and poor parenting.

"Kids just aren't used to it right now. They are used to getting bused or being in the car. It's really about teaching kids. That's the education part," says Christine Green, the regional policy manager at the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, a group that encourages communities to address this issue by making streets safer."

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs are sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school.
SRTS programs examine conditions around schools and conduct projects and activities that work to improve safety and accessibility, and reduce traffic and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.

"One of the biggest problems we have with schools in general is parents dropping off kids, buses, and kids walking, all converging in the same fifteen minute period," says Lees. In fact, 20 to 30 percent of morning traffic is children being driven to school, according to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. We've found that along some of the designated walking routes some of the crosswalks are not there or are in bad condition, so we will certainly go out there and mark those and remark ones that are faded," says Lees.

Read more about walking to school and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership here.