Biking to school is trending with GTHA students

New stats show more students prefer two wheels as active transportation climbs to a five-year high

Oct 16, 2018

While the warm weather is winding down, biking to school is rising in popularity with Toronto-area kids.

According to a new study released by Metrolinx and conducted by the University of Toronto, more Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) students are choosing to bike to school than five years ago, with high school students leading the way.

The study, released this week, explores patterns in school travel by age, gender, time of day and captures trends for the entire GTHA dating back to 1986.

Ron Buliung, a professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga, led the research effort and said that measuring how students get to and from school is helpful.

“As organizations like Metrolinx continue to invest in programs to encourage more walking and cycling to and from school, it is important to look at the data to see if there is any evidence of an impact on school travel,” said Buliung.

The study also found that walking levels continue to decline among students as the car and school bus remain the predominant form of travel across the GTHA.

Pedal Power: Bike to School Week 2018 considered a success

As cycling continues to trend with students, it’s no surprise that it was a record breaking year for Bike to School Week 2018.  The annual initiative was launched in 2015 by Cycle Toronto and Metrolinx to provide support, resources and strategies to encourage students to bike to school.

This year’s event ran from May 28 to June 1 and saw more than 49,000 students participate, nearly double from last year. In total, 543 schools registered across Ontario, an increase of 29 percent from 2017.

Bike to School Week was expanded this year from the GTHA to include schools from across Ontario. Students from Thunder Bay, Kingston, Sudbury and London, among many other municipalities, biked and wheeled their way to school.

Richard Christie, Senior Manager of Sustainability at the Toronto District School Board said the event has helped the school board meet its goals in supporting student travel.

“Our Board made a commitment to invest more in active, safe and sustainable school travel in 2013,” said Christie. “Since then, we have developed new partnerships with city staff, community organizations and Metrolinx to improve road safety around schools and to foster a culture of active transportation. It’s great to see Bike to School Week being embraced by so many of our students, families and staff.”

Metrolinx’s Roadmap for the Future

According to Metrolinx, 20 per cent of morning traffic is connected to getting students to school. Part of its mandate is to promote active school travel as it supports efforts to reduce traffic congestion in the GTHA.

“Encouraging children to walk, cycle or take public transit is an important goal for Metrolinx,” said Doug Spooner, Manager, Mobility Integration at Metrolinx. “The Regional Transportation Plan envisions that 60 per cent of children will walk or cycle to school by 2041.”

To explore a variety of resources and ideas for school travel, visit the Smart Commute website.