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School traffic

Cycle and Walk to School

Wall map "the world"
Wall map "the world" © Hans Lindberg

1. Background

In Europe and in many countries in the western world more and more pupils are today taken to school by car instead of walking or cycling. This contributes to a deterioration of the traffic environment around schools. Almost every day we can read about or hear alarming reports on the increase in the average body weight of children and juveniles. Lack of physical exercise is today probably the most common "national disease".

A study of pupils' routes to school had previously been carried out in Linköping (Sweden), and a programme of measures to improve the traffic environment around schools had been compiled. Nowadays, the traffic situation has improved around many schools, and measures will be taken near several other schools financed by the municipal investment budget.

The project "Cycle and Walk to school" targets on schools and aims to stimulate an increase in young peoples’ physical activity. Another important aim is to encourage the pupils themselves to contribute to the improvement of the traffic environment around their schools. This can be accomplished if they cycle or walk to school to a greater extent than at present.

2. Project Implementation

Description of the Project

This unique school project focus on 10-13 year olds. By encouraging them to cycle or walk to school the number of lifts in cars will be reduced. Every fortnight the class’s total distance of cycling and walking was registered on a very large world map. The pupils were thereby be able to see how far they had moved during the period. The aim was that Linköping's 10-13 year olds will cover as great a distance as possible during the course of the project.

During the project the pupils got extra lessons and information on different aspects of traffic and road safety. Among other topics they got information on the new legislation regarding cycle helmets which was introduced in Sweden in 2005. An emphasis had been placed on road safety. The pupils’ bicycles were inspected and stickers with the text "safe bicycle" were awarded to pupils whose bicycles fulfil road safety requirements. They also got information on how short car trips affect the environment, and on the importance of daily exercise.
The project "Cycle and walk to school" had a real strong support among the schools in Linköping. Eighteen schools and about 2500 pupils participated in the project, which was therefore the largest cycle project which had been carried out in a Swedish town and probably one of the biggest in Europe.

Predicted Results

"Cycle and walk to school" is a totally unique project whereof we expect a lot. The participating schools have so far reacted very positively to the project. Experience from other similar but smaller scale projects which had been carried out, shows that the number of parents who give their children lifts to school can be reduced by as much as 70 percent.
With the project we expected to reach the following results:

  • Greater use of bicycles
  • More knowledge about the environmental impact of short car trips
  • Reduced number of lifts to school
  • Increased use of cycle helmets
  • Better understanding of traffic and road safety
  • Improved health
  • Safer bicycles


The school project is part of the Baltic Sea Cycling Project (BSC) which is a joint project of Sweden, Norway, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (part of Germany) to promote cycling. The project executing organisation of the school project worked very close together with the Mobility Management office of Linköping "TEMP". Together they could use many resources and experiences to make this school project a real success.

Public Relations

In Linköping the city council issues its own magazine called DIALOG, which is distributed to every household. Regularly, the magazine informs the citizens in the municipality about different topics – for instance about the school project.
Local as well as national mass media has shown a great interest in the school. Swedish radio and TV have had reports about the project. Local television has also done a report which has been broadcast several times, and the local newspaper, Östgötacorrespondenten, published a half-page article on the project once a fortnight which showed how far a man on a bicycle had reached around the world, which represented the distance the school children have walked or cycled to school. The article also included how much carbon dioxide they have avoided letting out into the atmosphere.

Implementation Plan for the Project

January 2005
  • Compilation of detailed plan for the project
  • Production of different material for "marketing" of the project
February-April 2005

Marketing of the project

  • meeting with schools' senior staff
  • meetings with teachers at municipal schools for 10-13 year olds
  • meetings with mass media
  • meetings with companies which may be interested in the project

The schools notified their interest to participate in the project at the end of April. During that time, different learning materials had been compiled.

April-May 2005

Education of teachers and pupils to following themes:

  • different aspects of traffic and road safety
  • environmental aspects
  • health aspects
  • legislation on cycle helmets
  • cycle training track
  • Safe bicycle

A questionnaire for the pupils had been developed for the analysis of their travel habits, and an advertisement campaign with quotations from pupils on why cars should not be used for short trips had been carried out.

June-August 2005

Compilation of material for project implementation stage

August 2005

Campaign in mass media on:

  • effects of physical inactivity
  • mobility behaviour on the way to school / lifts to school
  • presentation of questionnaire
August-September 2005

Continued education of pupils (see above)

September-October 2005

The project Cycle or walk to school had put into action

November 2005
  • distribution of questionnaire to the pupils
  • Final get-together for all participants
November-December 2005

Compilation of results of project and part-evaluation

April-May 2006

Cycle or walk to school for those pupils who did not participate during the autumn of 2005

June 2006

Compilation and evaluation of the results of the project

3. Results

A survey was done before and after the project about the parents commuting to and from school. As a control similar surveys were made at two schools not involved in the project. According to the surveys the driving by car decreased with approximately 40 percent in the schools participating in the project. In the other schools the driving was unchanged. It was amazing to see that these short distances turned out to be such an enormous distance when they were added together. The pupils walked and biked 132.090 kilometers during eight weeks. If the pupils instead had been taken by car more than 31 ton of carbon dioxide had been emitted.
The project was presented at:

  • ECOMM 2006 in Groningen
  • VeloCity 2007 in Munich
  • ADFC 2007 in Rostock
  • Baltic Sea Cycling 2005-2007

The project idea has been spread to many Swedish and foreign cities.

Why is it an innovative example to follow?

The project "Cycle and Walk to school" is an innovative and successful project which stimulated pupils in Linköping to cycle or to walk to school. It contributes to environment protection, to the improvement of the traffic environment around the schools and to the pupils' health conditions.
Linköping is one of the Swedish towns which have worked most on creating a good environment for cyclists and to encourage more people to start cycling. Since we have many years experience of working with cycling projects directed towards schools, we like to spread out our experience not only within Sweden but also to our BSC partners and to other European countries.
The concept is simple and can be carried out both on a small and a large scale. Every country in Europe and every individual school can carry out this or a similar project with the help of the information material which the BSC will distribute. Therefore it will be easier to avoid mistakes, and quicker results will be reached than if every partner worked individually.
Many towns and cities in Europe have a more difficult traffic situation than Linköping. It is a positive effect if an increase in cycling contributes to improved traffic environments around schools. If there is an ambition to influence individuals transport habits it is important to start with lower age groups. We know from previous projects that many positive results can be reached with the right type of activity.
Therefore the project is an excellent example to show others how this can be done in a good and simple way.
  • As a result of the development of a good environment for cyclists in Linköping, many contacts with other towns and cities in Sweden with the same aim have been established. They met regularly and have learnt from each others experiences. This activity had extended due to the BSC project and the contacts made around the Baltic.
  • Within the framework of the BSC workshops had been made in which ideas and thoughts on the different activities (i.e. the school project) had been discussed.
  • Federation are partners in BSC and information about the project could be spreaded within these organisations.
  • The very good relationship with the media, newspapers, radio and TV means that information about project can be spread easily.


Funds of the European Union
Municipal funds
7 500 €
  • wall maps (that can be used several times during many years) 6.500 Euro
  • peripheral equipment 1.000 Euro


By the project leaders. See Results

Project manager / parties involved

Project management: 
Hans Lindberg (Åke Ståhlsepts, MM-office of Linköping)

Project term

The project is estimated as on-going without a special end date: 
On-going since: 
January 2005
Completed on: 
December 2006
Further information: 
A new project will start during 2008

Public relation and documents


Ansprechpartner auf Projektebene: 
Cycle coordinator
Hans Lindberg
Business area for community planning
City of Linköping
Drottninggatan 45
S 581 81 Linköping (Sweden)
Telefon: +46 13 208897

Kommunale Ansprechpartner: 
Cycle coordinator
Hans Lindberg
Business area for community planning
City of Linköping
Drottninggatan 45
S 581 81 Linköping (Sweden)
Telefon: +46 13 208897