Youth

Our goal is to make bike riding better for everyone—including riders of all ages. Increasing bicycling participation among America's youth is a key focus at PeopleForBikes. Here are some ways that we are making that happen, as well as helpful statistics, blogs and advice on riding with children.

KidsForBikes: How PeopleForBikes is Making Riding Better For Youth
Programs We Support
Advice, Tips + Tricks
Statistics

 

KidsForBikes

PeopleForBikes is making bicycling safer and easier for everyone who wants to ride, no matter their age. Through our initiatives like the Green Lane Project and Community Grants program, we're helping build more places for people to ride. These facilities include everything from protected bike lanes to urban mountain bike parks—and make bicycling safe, fun and convenient for young riders and families.

PeopleForBikes Community Grants fund projects that serve all ages and ability levels. Multi-use trails like the Spirit Trail in Missouri and the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail in Michigan are designed with families in mind. The Andres Bike Park in Illinois is using our grant to add features for beginner and intermediate riders and is already a hub for teens and young adults in the community. Finally, ciclovías—those great open streets days where people of all ages can ride, walk, run, skateboard, rollerblade and dance down the middle of the road—are coming to Montebello, CA and Milwaukee, WI thanks in part to our support.

Green Lane Project
Our Green Lane Project helps cities build better bike lanes that create low-stress streets. Protected bike lanes make bicycling safer and more pleasant for riders of all ages. One low-stress facility that serves young riders in particular, though, is this protected bike lane linking to an elementary school in Austin, TX—a Green Lane Project city.

In 2014, we introduced a new character to help illustrate the concept that, while many people would like to ride more, they simply don't feel safe doing so. Her name is Isabella. She is 12 years old and, like most girls her age, she's exploring her independence. She is ready to travel her world by bike, but is the network ready for her? Isabella wants to bike to school, the library and the ice cream shop, but her mom worries about her getting across or along busy streets. What if every project was designed with Isabella in mind? If we build it for Isabella, wouldn't it work beautifully for the rest of us too?

Since her debut, Isabella has been used by many local and state bike groups to help urban planners, engineers and advocates envision and plan low-stress, connected bike networks that will work for any user. 


Programs We Support

In addition to encouraging youth riding through our own programs, PeopleForBikes supports leading organizations, programs and events that get more kids riding. These include:


Advice, Tips + Tricks

Here are some helpful and fun blogs on youth riding:

Statistics

According to a recent survey, nearly 60% of American youth ages 3-17 rode a bike at least once in the past year. Here are some additional statistics:

Kids who bike or walk to recreation sites (parks, playgrounds, etc.) use them more often. The safer it is to bike or walk to play sites, the more likely it is that kids will bike or walk there.
Grow, H., et al., 2008 - Where are youth active? Roles of proximity, active transport, and built environment, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 40, 2071-2079

In a California study, children who passed by completed Safe Routes to School projects were more likely to show increases in active travel to school compared to children who didn't pass projects (15% vs 4%).
Boarnet, M, et al., 2005 - Evaluation of the California Safe Routes to School legislation: urban form changes and children's active transportation to school, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 28, 134-40

Children are less likely to bike or walk to school when there is a busy road barrier en route to school, or when parents believe that there are no lights or crossings for their child to use.
Timperio, A., et al., 2006 - Personal, family, social, and environmental correlates of active commuting to school, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 30, 45-51

High school girls who have numerous parks, schools, and other physical activity facilities in their neighborhood are significantly more likely to report getting vigorous physical activity than those who don't have any.
Pate, R., et al., 2008 - Physical Activity and Neighborhood Resources in High School Girls, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 34, 413-419

Pre-adolescent girls who live near multi-use trails get 5% more physical activity and have 1.4% lower body mass indexes than those who don't live near a trail.
Evenson, K., 2007 - "Girls' perception of neighborhood factors on physical activity, sedentary behavior, and BMI," Obesity, 15, 430-45

In 2009, 88 percent of U.S. children's bike-related deaths occurred in the street, up from 38 percent in 1990 and 47 percent in 2005.
Mehan, T., et al., 2009 - "Bicycle related injuries among children and adolescents in the United States," Clinical Pediatrics, 48.2, 166-73

Children are more likely to bike or walk to school when there are recreational facilities and bike paths nearby.
Ziviani, P., et al., 2009 - "Environmental correlates of children's active transportation: a systematic literature review," Health & Place, 15, 827-40

Young teens who live in neighborhoods where they can safely bike and walk to school and other destinations are significantly less likely to be obese.
Priedt, R., 2010 - "Neighborhood planning could help more kids avoid obesity," HealthDay News, 3 June 2010

A study of Safe Routes to School programs in four states found that active travel to school increased by 37% after implementation of the programs.
Moudon, A. V.; Stewart, O. 2012 - Moving Forward: Safe Routes to School Progress in Five States, July 2012

Adolescents who participate in bicycling, in-line skating, or skateboarding more than four times a week are 48% less likely to be overweight as adults.
Menschik, D., et al., 2008 - Adolescent physical activities as predictors of young adult weight, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 162, 23-28

Regular exercise reduces depression and improves self-esteem in overweight children.
Petty, K., et al., 2008 - Exercise effects on depressive symptoms and self-worth in overweight children: A randomized controlled trial, Journal of Pediatric Psychology

Youths who regularly bike or walk to leisure-time activities have better low back strength, low back extension, hip flexion, and exension than those who ride a school bus.
Sjolie, A., 2000 - Access to pedestrian roads, daily activities, and physical performance of adolescents, Spine, 25, 1965-72

Fifth-grade students who regularly bike or walk to school accumulate 3% more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per weekday, or about an additional 24 minutes/day.
Sirard, J., et al., 2005 - Physical activity and active commuting to elementary school, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 37, 2062-9

Children who ride a bike two or more times a week are less likely to be overweight.
Dudas, R., and M. Crocetti, 2008 - Association of bicycling and childhood overweight status, Ambulatory Pediatrics, 8, 392-395

Adolescents who bike or walk to school are 30% more likely to bike or walk to other neighborhood destinations, regardless of age, free-time physical activity, and neighborhood risk.
Dollman, J., and J. Lewis, 2007 - Active transport to school as part of a broader habit of walking and cycling among South Australian youth, Pediatric Exercise Science, 19, 436-43

Youth who bike or walk to school have less excess weight and body fat than those who take a bus, car, or motorcycle
Silva, K., and A. Lopes, 2008 - Excess weight, arterial pressure and physical activity in commuting to school: Correlations, Archives of Brazilian Cardiology, 91, 84-91

Overweight adolescents who participate in bicycling 3 to 4 days per week are 85% more likely to become normal-weight adults.
Menschik, D., et al., 2008 - Adolescent physical activities as predictors of young adult weight, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 162, 23-28

Adolescents who bike or walk to school watch less TV and are less likely to smoke than their peers who are driven to school. They also get more overall physical activity.
Landsberg, B., et al., 2008 - Associations between active commuting to school, fat mass, and lifestyle factors in adolescents: the Kiel Obesity Prevention Study (KOPS), European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 62, 739-47

Youth who commute to school by motorized transport gain an average of 2-3 pounds per year more than those who actively commute to school.
Tudor-Locke, C., et al., 2003 - Objective physical activity of filipino youth stratified for commuting mode to school, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 35, 465-71

Fourth grade boys who bike or walk to school have lower BMIs and body fat than non-active commuters. Kids who actively commute to school are also more likely to remain at a healthy weight.
Rosenberg, D., et al., 2006 - Active transportation to school over 2 years in relation to weight status and physical activity, Obesity, 14, 1771-6

Adolescents who bike or walk at least 8 km weekly to regular activities are less likely to suffer from lower back pain.
Sjolie, A., 2003 - Active or passive journeys and low back pain in adolescents, European Spine Journal, 12, 581-8

Primary school-aged boys who bike to school get more overall physical activity than those who are driven to school.
Cooper, A., et al., 2005 - Physical activity levels of children who walk, cycle, or are driven to school, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 29, 179-84

Kids who ride a school bus inhale up to a million times more vehicle emissions than the average person outside the bus
Marshall, J., and E. Behrentz, 2005 - Vehicle self-pollution intake fraction: Children's exposure to school bus emissions, Environmental Science and Technology, 39, 2559-2563

In the New York City school system, elementary and middle school students who placed in the top third of a fitness scale had better math and reading scores than students in the bottom third of the fitness scale. Those who were in the top 5% for fitness scored an average of 36 percentage points higher on state reading and math exams than did the least-fit 5%.
New York City Department of Health, 2009 - in "Study shows obese children perform poorer than fit children in school," Y. Gonan, New York Post, July 14, 2009

70% of obese 10- to 13-year-olds become obese adults.
Whitaker, R., et al., 1997 - in "Diet, Physical Activity, and Sedentary Behaviors as Risk Factors for Overweight in Adolescence," Achives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 2004, 158, 385-390

42% of high schoolers do not participate in any type of organized sports.
Center for Disease Control, 2003 - in "Getting Youth Active: Inactivity among American Youth," Outdoor Industry Foundation

Less than a third of high schoolers attend daily physical education classes. In 9th grade, 39% of students do; by 12th grade, only 18% do.
Center for Disease Control, 2003 - in "Getting Youth Active: Inactivity among American Youth," Outdoor Industry Foundation

Nearly two-thirds of children 9-13 do not participate in any organized physical activity outside of school, and 23% don't engage in any free-time physical activity at all.
Duke, J., et al., 2003 - Physical activity levels among children aged 9-13 years: United States, 2002, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 52, 785-788

In the U.S., 30% of boys and 40% of girls are at risk for being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Outdoor Foundation - "Getting Youth Active: Inactivity among American Youth"

Regular participation in vigorous physical activity dropped from 69% among 9th graders to 55% of 12th graders.
Center for Disease Control, 2003 - in "Getting Youth Active: Inactivity among American Youth," Outdoor Industry Foundation

For every hour a child sits during the day, they need three minutes longer to fall asleep at night. Short sleep duration is associated with obesity and lower cognitive performance.
Nixon, G.M., et al, 2009 - Falling asleep: the determinants of sleep latency, Archives of Disease in Childhood, published online first July 24, 2009

Almost 1 in 5 American 4-year-olds is obese.
Anderson, S., and R. Whitaker, 2009 - Prevalence of Obesity Among US Preschool Children in Different Racial and Ethnic Groups, Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, 163, 344-348

In a study of youth soccer players in Davis, California, over three-quarters of players and their parents drive to soccer games, with less than 20% biking, even though the average distance to the games was less than two miles. Soccer players who biked to school and whose parents regularly bicycled were significantly more likely to bike to the games.
Tal, G., and S. Handy, 2008 - Children's biking for non-school purposes: Getting to soccer games in Davis, CA, Transportation Research Record, 2074, 40-45

Children who bike to school have greater cardiorespiratory fitness that those who are get to school by car, bus, or walking.
Cooper, A. et al., 2006 - Active travel to school and cardiovascular fitness in Danish children and adolescents, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38, 1724-1731

The average U.S. child eats 165 calories more than they burn per day.
Wang, Y., et al., 2006 - in Adolescent Obesity: Towards Evidence-Based Policy and Environmental Solutions, Story, M., et al., 2009, Journal of Adolescent Health, 45, S1-S5

For every 15-minute increase in daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a 12-year-old has, they have a 10% reduction in fat mass at age 14.
Riddoch, C., et al., 2009 - "Prospective associations between objective measures of physical activity and fat mass in 12-14 year old children: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)," British Med. Journal

Children who begin biking or walking to school at an early age (grade 1) are more likely to stay a healthy weight during their early school years.
Pabayo, R., et al., 2009 - "Sustained Active Transportation is associated with a favorable body mass index trajectory across the early school years: Findings from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development birth cohort,

Girls who walk or bike to school perform better on tests. Longer commutes were associated with higher test scores, regardless of how much exercise students got outside of school.
Martinez-Gomez, D., et al., 2010 - Active commuting to school and positive cognitive performance in adolescents: The AVENA study, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine

Participation in physical activity is positively related to academic performance in children.
Singh, A., et al., 2012 - Physical activity and performance at school: A systematic review of the literature including a methodological quality assessment, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 166, 1

Bicycling to school improves children's cardiorespiratory fitness.
Borrestad, L., et. al., 2012 - Experiences from a randomised controlled trial on cycling to school: Does cycling increase cardiorespiratory fitness?, Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 7 March 2012

Young teens who live in neighborhoods where they can safely bike and walk to school and other destinations are significantly less likely to be obese.
Priedt, R., 2010 - "Neighborhood planning could help more kids avoid obesity," HealthDay News, 3 June 2010

Participation in physical activity is positively related to academic performance in children.
Singh, A., et al., 2012 - Physical activity and performance at school: A systematic review of the literature including a methodological quality assessment, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 166, 1

Bicycling to school improves children's cardiorespiratory fitness.
Borrestad, L., et. al., 2012 - Experiences from a randomised controlled trial on cycling to school: Does cycling increase cardiorespiratory fitness?, Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 7 March 2012

People who are confident biking as adults are more likely to have biked frequently when they were young than those people who aren’t biking as adults.
Dill, J., and McNeil, N., 2012 - Four Types of Cyclists? Testing a Typology to Better Understand Bicycling Behavior and Potential (Working paper)

Cycling to school is associated with lower odds of being overweight or obese for adolescents.
Ostergaard, A.G. et al, 2012 - Cycle to school is associated with lower BMI and lower odds of being overweight or obese in a large population-based study of Danish adolescents, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Volume 9

Youths who cycle or walk to school are more likely to cycle or walk to other activities.
Sjolie, A., and F. Thuen, 2002 - School journeys and leisure activities in rural and urban adolescents in Norway, Health Promotion International, 17, 21-30

Urban adolescents cycle or walk to regular activities more often than rural adolescents.
Sjolie, A., and F. Thuen, 2002 - School journeys and leisure activities in rural and urban adolescents in Norway, Health Promotion International, 17, 21-30

Children are more likely to bike or walk to school if they live less than 800 meters (0.5 mile) away.
Timperio, A., et al., 2006 - Personal, family, social, and environmental correlates of active commuting to school, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 30, 45-51

Regular cycling or walking to school (10 trips/week) is associated with parents' travel mode to work.
Merom, D., et al., 2006 - Active commuting to school among NSW primary school children: Implications for public health, Health Place, 12, 678-87

Once children have to commute more than 0.75 km (0.47 mi) to school, the chance that they commute by biking or walking drops.
Merom, D., et al., 2006 - Active commuting to school among NSW primary school children: Implications for public health, Health Place, 12, 678-87

Boys who report having many peers to hang out with locally are more likely to cycle for transportation and recreation.
Carver, A., et al., 2005 - How do perceptions of local neighborhood relate to adolescents' walking and cycling, American Journal of Health Promotion, 20, 139-47

In one generation, the percentage of children who walk or bike to school has dropped from 50% to 15%.
Safe Routes to School National Partnership, 2007 - Safe Routes to School: 2007 State of the States Report

35% of Dutch adolescents cycle to school on most days, and nearly 50% bike or walk.
Bere, E., et al., 2008 - Socio-demographic factors as correlates of active commuting to school in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Preventive Medicine

Young children (ages 5-14) with mothers who commute to work in the morning are less likely to bike or walk to school.
McDonald, N., 2008 - Household interactions and children's school travel: the effect of parental work patterns on walking and biking to school, Journal of Transport Geography, 16, 324-331

The likelihood of children walking or biking to school is positively associated with shorter trips, male gender, higher land use mix, and presence of street trees.
Larsen, K., et al., 2008 - The influence of the physical environment and sociodemographic characteristics on children's mode of travel to and from school, American Journal of Public Health

In one study, over 90% of adolescents who perceived distance as a barrier to active commuting to school lived further than 2.5 miles from school.
Nelson, N., et al., 2008 - Active commuting to school: How far is too far?, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity

Adolescents are more likely to bike or walk to school if they are males, Latinos, from lower-income families, public school students, from an urban areas, and living closer to school. Adolescents without an adult present after school and those whose parents know little about their whereabouts after school are also more likely to actively commute.
Babey, S., et al., 2008 - Sociodemographic, family, and environmental factors associated with active commuting to school among US adolescents, Journal of Public Health Policy, 30, S203–S220

In rural areas, adolescents with access to a safe park get more regular physical activity and are less likely to be inactive than those without access to a safe park.
Babey, S., et al., 2008 - Physical Activity Among Adolescents: When do parks matter?, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 34, 35-38

12% of American children's trips to sports activities are made by bike.
McDonald, N., 2006 - in Tal, G., and S. Handy, Children's biking for non-school purposes: Getting to soccer games in Davis, CA, Transportation Research Record, 2074, 40-45

Students are less likely to bike or walk to school if they have to travel along and/or cross a road with busy traffic and no lights or crossing points.
Timpero, A., et al., 2006 - Personal, family, social, and environmental correlates of active commuting to school, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 30, 45-51

Boys are more likely to bike or walk to school than girls.
McMillan, T., et al., 2006 - Johnny can walk to school-Can Jane? Examining sex differences in children's active travel to school, Children, Youth, and Environment, 16, 75-89

Parents are significantly more likely to let their children bike or walk to school when they believe that other adults in the neighborhood watch out for children.
McDonald, N., et al., 2010 - "Influence of the social environment on children's school travel," Preventive Medicine, 50, S65-S68

Three-quarters of parents who drive their children less than 2 miles to school say they do it for convenience and to save time.
McDonald, N., and A. Aalborg, 2009 - Why parents drive children to school: Implications for Safe Routes to School Programs, Journal of the American Planning Association, 75, 331-342

Sixty percent of people in England who are able to ride a bike are deterred from cycling because they feel it's unsafe to cycle on roads. More than half said they would start riding or ride more often if there were more cycle paths.
Thornton, A., et al., 2010 - Climate Change and Transport Choices, Department of Transport

Five percent of American children ride a bicycle on any given day.
US Department of Transportation, 2001 - 2001 National Household Travel Survey

Girls and boys share similar attitudes about exercise and bicycling until age 14, at which point more girls fear injury and doubt their own athletic competence.
Goddard, T. 2013 - For girls on bikes, new research shows a turning point: age 14, BikePortland.org, 2013

People who are confident biking as adults are more likely to have biked frequently when they were young than those people who aren’t biking as adults.
Dill, J., and McNeil, N., 2012 - Four Types of Cyclists? Testing a Typology to Better Understand Bicycling Behavior and Potential (Working paper)