School Travel Survey

A School Travel Survey is a questionnaire sent home to parents and families asking them about their transportation activities and concerns.

Note: this Toolkit deals with electronic/online surveys only – to understand why and/or for more information on paper surveys, skip to the Additional Considerations section below.

Surveys are a useful way of gathering information from a large number of people.

A School Travel Survey can help you learn how your school community travels, why they make the choices they do, and what would encourage families who drive to shift towards more active modes.

It is also an opportunity for community members to share their concerns or ideas on how trips to school could be made more active, fun and safe.

Finally, running a School Travel Survey allows you to connect with members of your school community who are interested in helping encourage more active trips to school.
The more people answer a survey, the more useful its data will be.

Work with your school’s administration to ensure that as many parents as possible receive and respond to your transportation survey: they will likely have the most comprehensive and effective means of contacting parents electronically.

Your school's Parent Advisory Council will likely have its own communication channels, such as an email list and social media feeds, through which to alert or remind parents about the survey.

Step 1: Decide what you want to know

Once you have your school’s administration on board (see the WHO section above), decide what survey questions you want to ask. The online survey template provided has a set of standard questions drawn from the School Travel Planning toolkit that are designed to gather information such as:

  • how families at your school travel,
  • under what conditions they would walk or cycle,
  • what safety concerns they have, and
  • who is interested in helping to encourage walking and cycling.
Click on the link provided in the Additional Considerations section to access the online survey template. You’ll be prompted to make your own copy of the survey, and will need a Google or Gmail account to do so. Once you’ve created your own copy, you can make any changes or additions to it you like.

Step 2: Distribute and collect your surveys

The more people answer a survey, the more useful its data will be. To ensure your survey garners as many responses as possible:

  • send it out alone, rather than as a link in a newsletter or part of a larger package;
  • supplement your paper survey or email with other prompts, such as posts on your PAC Facebook page, blog posts on your school’s website, email reminders or mentions in newsletters, etc.;
  • provide a deadline of one week for responses to encourage parents to respond immediately rather than setting it aside for later – you can always extend the deadline if your response rate is low; and
  • track your returns and send out a reminder after a few days if they seem low.

Step 3: Review your data

The online survey provided in the Additional Considerations will automatically sort and present your survey data. Hopefully, the information you’ve gathered will give you a clear understanding of how your school community travels, the challenges and barriers its families face, and who is interested in helping you encourage more active trips to school. Have a look at the results, and share them with other members of your school community through PAC meetings, in newsletters, etc.
You can send out the survey any time - but be aware that travel behaviour may change throughout the year: a survey administered in the spring or fall will likely find higher rates of walking and cycling than one sent home in the middle of the winter.

Templates

A template School Travel Survey can be accessed through the link below. Once you click on the link, you’ll be prompted to make your own copy of the survey, and will need a Google or Gmail account to do so. The copy you make is yours – you can make any additions or changes to it you like, and share it with or send it to whomever you please.

SCHOOL TRAVEL SURVEY TEMPLATE

Online vs. Paper Surveys

While paper surveys often receive more responses than online surveys, this toolkit deals with online surveys only, as they are far easier to administer. For more information and assistance with paper surveys, check out the School Travel Planning toolkit:

www.saferoutestoschool.ca/school-travel-planning/school-travel-planning-toolkit

Youth Engagement

Talk to your school’s math teachers to see if they would be interested in having their students work with the survey data you gather: they may be able to graph or interpret the results, and present their findings to the rest of the school community.

Sustainability / Scaling Up

By making a copy of your original survey and adding a few tweaks, you can run your School Travel Survey in future years to determine whether your efforts to encourage more walking and cycling are having an impact on how families at your school travel, or whether conditions for or perceptions about active travel have changed.

Barriers you may Encounter

Privacy can be a concern when it comes to collecting information from survey families at school. You can avoid this issue by ensuring that your survey does not ask for or collect personal information such as names or addresses.
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