U.S. active school travel in 2017: Prevalence and correlates

Eleftheria Kontou, Noreen C. McDonald, Kristen Brookshire, Nancy C. Pullen-Seufert, Seth LaJeunesse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Active transportation to school (ATS), denoting walking and biking, is crucial to promote physical activity for youth. This study uses data from the 2017 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) to report on the most recent and nationally representative school transportation patterns. Binary logit modeling determines significant factors associated with school travel mode choices. Spatial differences on school mode choices across the US are explored. In 2017 9.6% of the students of 5–17 years old usually walked and 1.1% biked to school. For students who usually walk to school, 77.5% of their school trips were less than one mile and, among usual bikers to school, 82.8% of trips were less than two miles. Student rates of walking to school decreased as the distance to school increased and biking rates peaked when distance to school was between 0.5 and 1 miles. When distance to school was <0.5 miles, walking was the most common mode for urban and rural regions. When the trip was shorter than or equal to one mile, factors such child's school grade, household vehicles per driver, and household income were associated with the decision to walk or bike to school. Other demographic characteristics like race and gender were not significantly related to ATS. While comparison across NHTS years should be viewed with caution due to changes in survey methodology, the decline of ATS rates indicate that more effective and higher reaching efforts for local, regional, and national interventions should be prioritized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101024
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Active transportation
  • Bicycling
  • Children
  • Mode choice
  • School travel
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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