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High School Bicycling Survey 2013: Summary Report


Research Report

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Suggested Citation:
Lovejoy, Kristin and Susan L. Handy (2013) High School Bicycling Survey 2013: Summary Report. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-13-27

Concerns about childhood obesity and environmental problems such as climate change have led researchers to examine declining rates of bicycling and walking among children. Understanding the underlying reasons for these travel choices is an important foundation of any federal, state, and local programs aiming to reverse the trend. However, most existing studies have focused just on walking, and have focused on younger elementary school students, leaving important gaps in understanding choices about biking and the experiences of high school students, who have may have more autonomy than younger children as well as the new opportunity to obtain a driver’s license.

To examine high school students’ motivations to bicycle versus drive, Emond and Handy conducted a study in 2009 of students in Davis, CA, where there is a high level of bicycling relative to other US cities. They found higher rates of bicycling among male students and younger students, and that parents (versus peers) and perceived distance (versus actual distance) were more important factors influencing travel decisions (Emond & Handy, 2012). However, because those results may be particular to the unique Davis context, we conducted a follow-up study in 2013, replicating the investigation in two additional high schools situated in more typical Northern California communities, and also repeating the survey at Davis High. This report summarizes the data collection process and preliminary findings of this follow-up survey, conducted at a total of three Northern California high schools in the spring of 2013: Davis High (in Davis, CA), Sequoia High (in Redwood City, CA), and Tamalpais High (in Mill Valley, CA).