Date of Award

6-2013

Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning/MS in Engineering (Transportation Planning Specialization)

Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor

Cornelius Nuworsoo

Abstract

Over the last 40 years, there has been a dramatic increase nationwide in the rate of children being driven to school in a private vehicle in the U.S., exacerbating problems from traffic congestion to childhood obesity. While many studies have focused on walking and cycling for the trip to school, few explore parental decision making and the interaction between all travel modes. This study conducts a survey of parents of children attending six elementary schools in San Luis Obispo regarding their children’s travel to school. It explores factors in mode choice, establishes local travel patterns for children, and describes parents’ decision making and the interaction between driving and alternative modes: walking, cycling, school bus, and public transit. An association is found between child gender and parental permission for walking/cycling and riding public transit without adult supervision. An association is also found between parents’ own activity, walking/cycling and riding public transit, and their likelihood to encourage their children to use these modes. Based on survey findings, the study outlines strategy alternatives and recommends implementing free transit days for families, organizing a community safety audit for transit settings, forming a partnership between San Luis Coastal Unified School District and the City of San Luis Obispo to divert demand for school bus transportation to other alternative modes, and organizing a walking school bus.

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