5 Good Reasons Why Children Should Walk To School

Susan Elkin points to alarmingly low statistics on the number of children who walk to school, especially when compared with historic rates. She lays out some “blindingly obvious” and “child-centered” reasons why this trend needs to be reversed.

1 minute read

January 19, 2013, 9:00 AM PST

By Erica Gutiérrez


Elkin writes, “[a] study from the University of Westminster has this week shown that only 25 per cent of primary school pupils now travel home alone as opposed to 86 per cent in 1971 and 76 per cent today in Germany.” She outlines five reasons why it should be normal rather than exceptional for children to walk to school without parental supervision. These five reasons address issues such as: increasing child obesity, child development and socialization, stress- and risk-management, and even the observation of nature. Aside from these, Elkin points to a few others, including benefits to parents, car maintenance, and road congestion.

She also addresses, and debunks, the safety fears that prevent parents from allowing their children to walk to school. For example, she sites NSPCC statistics, which show that children are more likely to be killed by their own parents than by a stranger. On teaching kids about the rules of the road, she adds, “Surely if a parent walks his or her child to school until he or she is, say, eight there will have been ample time to do this?”

Elkin concludes by challenging parents to “break the mould” and to move away from “the hop-in-the-car attitude” that has become “culturally embedded” causing children to “[get] fatter, less curious and less self reliant."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 in The Independent

Large blank mall building with only two cars in large parking lot.

Pennsylvania Mall Conversion Bill Passes House

If passed, the bill would promote the adaptive reuse of defunct commercial buildings.

April 18, 2024 - Central Penn Business Journal

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

A view straight down LaSalle Street, lined by high-rise buildings with an El line running horizontally over the street.

Chicago to Turn High-Rise Offices into Housing

Four commercial buildings in the Chicago Loop have been approved for redevelopment into housing in a bid to revitalize the city’s downtown post-pandemic.

April 10, 2024 - Chicago Construction News

Purple jacaranda trees in bloom in Los Angeles with tall white Art Deco buildings in background.

LA County Releases Draft Community Forest Management Plan

LA County's Chief Sustainability Office just released the discussion draft of Room to Grow, the first Community Forest Management Plan for the county.

April 21 - Los Angeles County Chief Sustainability Office

Aerial view of downtown Seattle, Washington at dusk.

Seattle Downtown Plan Expands Permitted Uses

The Downtown Activation Plan shifts from Euclidean to form-based zoning to encourage more commercial development.

April 21 - Governing

Large water pipe with brown water pouring out into dirt ditch.

Southern Water Infrastructure at Risk From Climate Impacts

A water main breaks somewhere in the United States every two minutes, according to an estimate from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

April 21 - The Conversation

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.