Transport modalities of upper-grade pupils of Amsterdam elementary schools

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Transport modalities of upper-grade pupils of Amsterdam elementary schools
Walking versus cycling: 3-1
In Amsterdam pupils from grades 6, 7 and 8 mainly reach their elementary schools on foot. Cycling comes second. Over half of all children say they never cycle to school. Children from ethnic minorities cycle less than their native contemporaries. Culture plays a part here, as well as distance to school, as shown by a study among upper grade pupils of fourteen elementary schools in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam authorities wanted to know the state of cycling among elementary school pupils. The study conducted by Regioplan focussed on groups 6, 7 and 8. Attention was paid not only to bicycle use - outside school hours as well - and the reasons for that, but also to status and meaning of bicycles among the children.

Cycling for fun

The children walk to school much more often than they cycle, due mainly to their proximity: on average 700 metres; over a quarter even live within 300 metres of school. It is simply not necessary to take the bicycle. Almost all children do possess a bicycle. And those living somewhat farther from school, do use it more often. Once the distance exceeds approximately one and a half kilometres, they use other transport modalities instead. Outside school hours many children use their bicycles extensively. Children from grade 8 cycle more and, as can be expected, more often independently than children from grade 6. Girls like cycling as much as boys do, cycle a little less, but much more often in company. Fun is the most important motive, along with visiting friends, family, clubs and shopping.
Transport modalities of pupils of grades 6, 7 and 8 of 14 elementary schools in Amsterdam (n=937) in %





on foot





independent bike ride





carried along on bike or moped





by car





bus, tram or metro





Non-native versus native

The opinion is frequently expressed that ethnic minorities cycle much less often than native Dutchmen, as a result of which there is less cycling to school in major cities. This will eventually have dire consequences for overall bicycle use. Does the study reflect this feeling? In Amsterdam few differences have become obvious about the status of the bicycle between children of non-native and native backgrounds. Both groups possess almost as often a bicycle and are able to cycle almost as often as well. They are also equally proud of their bikes and are equally fond of cycling. Children from ethnic minorities (as well as their parents) do however have in some respects more negative feelings about bicycle use. In actual practice they also cycle to school less often: 70% of non-native pupils never cycles, compared to 47% of native children. They cite mainly subjective reasons: prefer walking or the bus, don’t feel like cycling. The all-important reason for native children to walk is the fact that school is so near. This is less often provided as a reason by children of non-Dutch parentage. Yet these are precisely the ones that walk to school most often: of Moroccan children 80% always walks, 71% of Turkish children, 63% of Surinamese and 52% of native Dutch children. The fact that children from ethnic minorities walk more and cycle less to school is, according to Regioplan, partly due to cultural differences: for their parents, many of whom do not or can not cycle themselves, teaching how to ride a bicycle is less self-evident. Another major factor according to Regioplan, is the fact that many children from ethnic minorities visit either inner-city schools close to home - and then go on foot - or religious schools that are too far from home to cycle. They are often transported there by their parents.
Report: Regioplan, Kind en fiets: een onderzoek naar het gebruik van de fiets door Amsterdamse basisscholen, Amsterdam maart 2001.
Source: Fietsverkeer nr 4, October 2002, pag 24.

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