The ways by which children and teenagers travel to school have changed in the last decade. Concern for children's safety (on the road as well as their personal safety) has had an influence on children's travel patterns. Overall, there has been an increase in the number of children driven to school by car, at the expense of walking or cycling. Changes to school zoning restrictions (allowing children to travel to schools outside their local area), and the changing lifestyles of parents may also have had an effect.
Because the number of school-age children has grown, especially in the cities, the total number of trips to school has increased between 1989/90 and 1997/98. The graphs show how primary and intermediate age children (5-12 years) travel to school in the main urban areas ("cities" compared to other places (smaller cities, such as Wanganui or Timaru, towns and rural areas, referred to as "towns and rural areas").
In the cities, being driven by car is now the most common way of getting to primary or intermediate school. The number of these trips has almost doubled between 1989/90 and 1997/98, while the number of cycling and walking trips to school has increased only slightly. A small but growing number of primary and intermediate-age children catch the bus to school usually in combination with walking part of the way.
Among secondary school students in cities (graph not shown), car passenger trips have doubled over the same period and outstrip walking as the most common means of transport to school. The number of cycle and walking trips has decreased slightly and the number of teenagers who catch buses or drive themselves to school has increased since 1989/90.
In towns and in rural areas, there has been a smaller increase in the number of primary and intermediate school trips. The number of children driven to school by car has more than doubled, at the expense of walking and cycling. Forty percent of children in both primary and secondary age groups in these areas travel to school by bus, often combined with walking or being driven to the bus stop.
In the cities, being driven by car is now the most common way of getting to primary or intermediate school. The number of these trips has almost doubled between 1989/90 and 1997/98.