The future of multimodal student transportation

Today, most student transportation departments around the country focus primarily on getting students to school on yellow school buses. But student transportation isn’t just about school buses — especially if you live in the one-to-two-mile radius around a school. Students are also getting to school by foot, bicycle, scooter, car, and public transportation. Decisions about how students travel to school affect their health and safety, as well as traffic congestion, air pollution, and the health and safety of the community at large.

Bus report student cost

A new report out from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership explores collaboration opportunities between Safe Routes to School and School Bus professionals. Buses, Boots, and Bicycles: Exploring Collaboration Between Safe Routes to School and School Busing Professionals to Get Children to School Safely and Healthily (pdf).

Buses, Boots, and Bicycles addresses questions such as:

  • How are students actually getting to school today?
  • What are the policies that dictate how a school district or state approaches student transportation?
  • How are student transportation expenses funded, and how do funding structures vary among states?
  • How do funding formulas create incentives or disincentives for walking, bicycling, and Safe Routes to School?

On Thursday, July 17 at 11:00 a.m. PT, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership is hosting a free webinar with representatives from student transportation departments and Safe Routes to School programs to discuss the implications of the Buses Boots & Bicycles report, and to share experiences and ideas for working together.

Register here.

Physical activity supports academic achievement

The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids are Healthy and Ready to Learn


This easy-to-read special report, released in 2013, is a roadmap for parents, educators, school administrators, and school volunteers to create healthier school environments so the children in their lives are better positioned to learn. The report demonstrates that:

  • Physical activity supports academic achievement.
  • Kids who eat well, learn better.
  • Healthier practices in schools can increase schools’ revenue.

Safe Routes to School programs provide a bridge for schools to reinforce the connection between physical fitness and learning – especially in funding-challenged districts. From the report:

“Study after study shows kids who get regular physical activity experience improvements not just in their fitness levels but in brain function too. Just walking or biking to school can prime the brain for learning. It makes sense – kids need to move more. When they do, they are better positioned to succeed in the classroom.”

paincreasesbrainactivity-01-2014Download the full report (PDF).

National and local trends: More Kindergarten to 8th Grade Children Are Walking & Bicycling to School

New research from the National Center for Safe Routes to School shows more kindergarten to grade 8 (K-8) students are walking to and from school across the country.


According to the data, the percentage of K-8 children who walked to school in the morning increased from 12.4 percent to 15.7 percent (representing a 27 percent increase). Similarly, the percentage of K-8 children who walked from school in the afternoon increased from 15.8 percent to 19.7 percent (representing a 24 percent increase). Another significant finding of this research was that the percentage of parents reporting that their child’s school supports walking and bicycling for the school commute from 24.9 percent to 33 percent.

The full report, “Trends in Walking and Bicycling to School from 2007 to 2012,” analyzed parent survey data collected by nearly 4,700 schools located in all states and Washington DC from 2007 through 2012. The complete study and a companion piece for practitioners, “Trends in Walking and Bicycling to School: Takeaways for Building Successful Programs,” is available online here (PDF).


Meanwhile, the City of Portland continues to chip away at their own level of success when it comes to Safe Routes to School: a whopping 41 percent of Portland pupils either walked or biked to school in autumn 2013! Read more at BikePortland.

A tool to assess walking and biking potential at schools

For those of you working with or at a school or school district, wondering how to asses your school’s Safe Routes to School potential:


WalkBoston and their regional planning organization (MAPC) developed a tool for schools in Massachusetts to assess walking (and now biking) potential. A discussion of the tool can be found at and the tool itself can be seen at   – with responses to this very short survey, schools can automatically generate reports and maps that show how students get to/from school. This immediately reveals whether there are a lot of children living nearby who are currently arriving in cars (and therefore possible candidates to shift to walking or biking), or whether most nearby students are already arriving on foot. The tool for Massachusetts also includes walksheds and bikesheds for all schools that accurately represent walking and biking distances and accessibility (sidewalks etc).

The tool was designed so that it can be adapted by other states or school districts, please contact Tim Reardon at MAPC, 617-933-0718 or

If you have questions about the research, get in touch with Wendy Landman, Executive Director WalkBoston — or 617-367-9255.