School Walk Zone: Identifying Environments That Foster Walking and Biking to School

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Kweon, B.-S.; Shin, W.-H.; Ellis, C.D. School Walk Zone: Identifying Environments That Foster Walking and Biking to School. Sustainability 2023, 15, 2912.


Today, few children walk or bike to school. According to the National Household Travel Survey, only 11% of children walk or bike to school. In 1969, almost 50% of children walked or biked to school in the US. Although our understanding is limited, previous research has shown that physical environments can influence non-automobile mode choices for travel to school. For example, landscape buffers and trees affect parents’ perceptions of their children’s safety and increase their willingness to let their children walk to school. We investigated how a number of physical attributes in the pedestrian environment influence children’s commutes to school. A total of 186 parents from four school walk zones in College Station, TX, participated in this study. We found that children walked more in neighborhoods with mature trees. Moreover, the mean walking and biking distances differed from each other, and both were influenced by the location of the school within the walk zones. Concerns about traffic safety and convenience were negatively related to walking and biking. The findings here suggest ways to shape better school walk zone guidelines that include neighborhood design, planning, and engagement in support of active and healthy children.