Active travel remains most common form of travel among Scottish pupils

11.37 | 31 May | | 1 comment

Image: Colin Hattersly (via Sustrans Scotland)

While the number of pupils across Scotland who are cycling to school is increasing, there has been a drop off in the numbers walking.

The findings form part of the annual 2017 Hands Up Scotland Survey which is funded by Transport Scotland and carried out by Sustrans Scotland in partnership with all 32 Scottish local authorities.

Now in its 10th year, the Hands Up Scotland Survey, which asks children how they normally travel to school, registered the highest ever number of participants in 2017 – 515,005 pupils across nursery, primary, secondary, independent and special educational needs (SEN) schools.

Active travel has consistently remained the most frequently reported mode of travel to school in Scotland in the survey – ranging from 49.3% in 2010 to a high of 50.4% in 2014, then down to 48.8% in 2017.

The percentage of pupils cycling to school has increased from 2.8% in 2010, to a high of 3.7% in 2017.

However, the number walking to school has decreased from 45.8% in 2010, to 42.3% in 2017.

24.5% of school pupils surveyed in 2017 said they normally travel to school via a ‘private motorised’ mode of transport.

Overall, this figure has changed little over the 10 years of the survey – from 24.5% in 2010 (and 2017) to a low of 23.0% in 2013.

The number of pupils being driven to school in a car decreased from 22.9% in 2010 to 21.4% in 2013, but has subsequently increased to 22.8% in 2017.

John Lauder, Sustrans Scotland’s national director, said: “The Hands Up Scotland Survey is crucial in helping local authorities and partners to build a more accurate picture of how Scotland’s children travel to and from school, and helps to pin-point areas where more work can be done.

“It is particularly encouraging to see a continued rise in the number of pupils cycling to school each day.

“Research has shown that increased physical activity can help us lead healthier – and happier – lives.

“By encouraging young people to travel actively for their journey to school, we can ensure Scotland’s children develop healthier travel habits that will be continued later in life.”


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    Using the above figures an alternative headline could have said that walking & cycling to school in Scotland has decreased between 2010 and 2017 despite the best efforts of all.

    I’ve said before that turning around a downward trend is infinitely more difficult than further increasing a rising one.

    Scotland is not alone with this problem of encouraging more active travel amongst school aged children.


    Pat, Wales
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