26% trips to school, 15% of all trips in California are walk or bicycle despite risk

26% of kids in California walk and bike to school.  That’s a big number, especially compared to the national average, which as of 2001 was only 13% of kids across the country that walk and bicycle to school.  Our 26% statewide average was strongly supported by analyses of two separate data sets – the first looked at the California add-on to the National Household Travel Survey (graph), and the second was a review of student tally and parent survey data from Safe Routes to School grantees across the state that resulted in an article published in the American Journal of Public Health.  When you include adults in the count, 15% of all travel trips across the state are by foot or on bicycle, which is still well ahead of the national average of 12% according to the 2009 National Household Travel Survey.

26% and 15% are even more significant when you consider what walking and bicycling Californians are up against out on the road.  We have one of the worst fatality rates for pedestrians and bicyclists involved in auto-related crashes – (again) 26%!  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting Database, of all the fatalities resulting from auto crashes in 2010 more than one quarter were pedestrians and bicyclists.  This rate is also much higher than the national average of only 15%.

It is clear that despite the risk, Californians of all ages want to walk and bike in their communities, to school, work, and for any other travel trips.  This data supports the hard and necessary work that all of our partners across the state are engaged in to advocate for better and safer infrastructure for walking and bicycling.

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