School-Based Travel: A Mobility Assessment

Active commuting to school has been an overlooked source of physical activity for children. This study aimed to provide insights on how the individual activity-travel patterns of adults in the Puget Sound Region of Washington State were impacted by the presence of children in the household. It also investigated if and how the characteristics of both home and school neighborhood environments influenced mode choice for school-based trips, and explored the reciprocal relationships between travel patterns of children and adults. The research sought to address two questions: How did having children aged 18 and younger affect activity-travel patterns of individual adults? How were children and household characteristics, parents’ travel patterns, and environments around home and school associated with children’s mode of commuting to school? Regarding the first question, there were significant differences in activity-travel patterns between individuals or households with and without children aged 18 or younger. Regarding the second question, the study found a strong inverse association between network distance between home and school and active commuting to school for all school age groups, as well as for elementary school children who lived near to their school. It was not surprising to find that having school-aged children affected the travel patterns of adults. Specifically, the individual parent’s gender and work status were strongly associated with travel frequency and mode choice. Future research and programs will need to consider the parent’s socioeconomic characteristics in order to (1) better manage the general impact of family travel pattern on transportation systems; and (2) to effectively encourage children to use active travel to school. Increasing the number of children using active travel to school can potentially yield two benefits: reduce traffic conditions in neighborhoods and improve children’s health. The strong inverse association between network distance from home to school and active commuting to school found in all school age groups, even for those who lived near to their school, suggested that urban and transportation planners should work with school districts to change school siting and allocation policies, especially for elementary and middle schools. Route directness from home to school and traffic volume were additional characteristics of home and school neighborhoods that could be modified to encourage active travel to school.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This research was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers Program.
  • Corporate Authors:

    University of Washington, Seattle

    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, P.O. Box 352700
    Seattle, WA  United States  98195-2700

    Transportation Northwest Regional Center X (TransNow)

    University of Washington, More Hall, P.O. Box 352700
    Seattle, WA  United States  98195-2700

    Washington State Department of Transportation

    Research Office, Transportation Building, MS 47372
    Olympia, WA  United States  98504-7372

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Moudon, Anne Vernez
    • Lin, Lin
  • Publication Date: 2011-2


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Edition: Final Research Report
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 132p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01337614
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: TNW2010-09
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT07-G-0010 (Grant)
  • Created Date: Apr 22 2011 10:26AM