Levels of pupils cycling to school in Scotland continue to increase

children cycling to school

Image credit: Colin Hattersly

24 May 2018

The recorded levels of pupils cycling to school each year have reached their highest ever, according to research released by Sustrans Scotland.

The findings form part of the annual 2017 Hands Up Scotland Survey, an Official Statistic in Scotland. Funded by Transport Scotland, the survey was carried out by Sustrans Scotland in partnership with all 32 Scottish local authorities.

A total of 3.7% of school pupils said they cycled to school in 2017, up from 2.8% in 2010. The increase was highest in secondary schools, which marked a 0.4 percentage point increase in cycling levels over the past year (from 0.9% in 2016, to 1.3% in 2017).

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

Active travel is still the most frequently reported mode of travelling to school in Scotland. Of the 48.8% of pupils who said they normally get to school in an active way, 3.7% said they used their bikes and 2.8% said they arrived on scooter, or skated to school. A further 42.3% said they walked to school, a decrease from 2016.

16.5% of pupils said they normally travelled by bus, and 24.5% said they travelled by car or taxi (22.8% and 1.6% respectively). 9.7% said they travelled via park and stride.

Commenting on the findings, Sustrans Scotland’s National Director John Lauder said: “We want to thank all the schools who took part in the 2017 Hands Up Scotland Survey.

“The 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.

“The Hands Up Scotland Survey is an especially valuable tool for local authorities and partners giving them the opportunity to see school travel data at a regional level which can help support their work in the area.

“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.”

Earlier this week, Sustrans announced the launch of their Safer Routes to School fund. Funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by Sustrans Scotland, the fund aims to transform the school run into a safe, attractive and healthy option for pupils and parents who want to travel actively.

Projects aimed at tackling dangerous driving practices around school, creating priority crossings or increasing safety at school entrances through child-friendly placemaking are also encouraged to apply.

Hand Up Scotland Survey results in detail