Using active transport to get to school is good for children's health
Using active transport to travel to and from school is an effective way for children to get some physical activity each day. Smith et al (2018) estimate that in 2018, only 38% of New Zealand children aged 8–13 years received the minimum recommended amount of daily physical activity.
Considering the high child obesity rate in New Zealand, this is a relatively easy way to increase physical activity in children - the latest data from the New Zealand Health Survey indicates that around one in nine children are obese (Ministry of Health 2021).
Dramatic drop in active transport use to school from 1989/90 to 2010–14
Children were much less likely to use active modes of transport to get to school in recent years than during the late 1980s (Figure 1).
The percentage of children walking to school dropped from 42% in 1989/90, to 29% in 2010–14. For cycling, the percentage dropped from 12% in 1989/90, to 2% in 2010–14.
The percentage of children who were passengers in cars increased from 31% in 1989/90, to 55% in 2010–14.
Figure 1: Mode of transport used to get to school, by children aged 5–12 years, 1989/90 – 2010–14 (unadjusted prevalence, %)
Information about the data
This webpage includes data from the following two sources:
Transport mode to school
Source: Ministry of Transport - New Zealand Household Travel Survey (1989/90, 1997/98, 2003–07, 2010–14) (HD011 Mode share of journeys to school).
Definition: Transport mode used by children aged 5–12 years who are full-time students and who travel to education from home, for journeys commencing between 6am and 9:30am.
Active transport to and from school
Source: Ministry of Health - New Zealand Health Survey (2006/07, 2011/12–2020/21)
Definition: Children aged 5–14 years who usually travelled to and from school by walking, cycling or other non-motorised modes such as skates, among all children aged 5–14 years.