Roman Popat: The rise of the scooter

'Scooter pods' in the playground.
'Scooter pods' in the playground.
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Data scientist, Roman Popat, examines the most popular methods of travel for Scottish school kids journeying to school.

Every year since 2008 there has been a survey, the “Hands Up Scotland” survey, held in schools across Scotland. It is the largest national dataset to look at travel to school across Scotland.

How kids travel to school 2009-2013. Picture: Roman Popat.

How kids travel to school 2009-2013. Picture: Roman Popat.

Utilising this data we can take a look at how kids get to school.

Dependent on the type of school, the differing modes of transport to school vary.

The four panels in the diagram represent the four different types of school; Independent, Primary, Secondary and SEN (Special Education Needs). The different coloured bars represent the proportion of children that travel by a particular mode of transport. The colour of those bars represents the mode of transport in question. Finally, each panel displays the proportions changing over time, since the survey started in 2008 (bars from left to right). The summarised data can be seen in the first graph.

The first thing to note is that children from different types of school tend to use a different mixture of transportation.

The use of bikes, scooters and skates as a method to get to school has increased dramtically since 2008. Picture: Roman Popat.

The use of bikes, scooters and skates as a method to get to school has increased dramtically since 2008. Picture: Roman Popat.

For example, a large proportion of children in Primary and Secondary schools walk (red bars) compared with a relatively small proportion in Independent Schools. Most children attending SEN schools arrive by bus or taxi, whereas driving and Park & Stride schemes are more popular in Primary and Independent schools.

If we look closer, there is a relatively small proportion of children arriving by scooters, skates and bicycles, but this seems to be increasing over time (left to right).

Each panel displays data one mode of transport over time. Each line in each panel represents a single local authority.

The coloured lines (red and blue) represent the overall trend across the years of the survey. The blue lines are where there is statistical evidence for a trend over time. A red line means that there is no evidence for any trend over time.

As you can see, the two panels with blue lines sloping upwards are “Cycle” and “Scooter/Skate”. In these cases, there is evidence to suggest an increase over time.

Although they are still relatively small proportions compared to say “Walk” or “Driven”, cycling and other forms of active transport have become more popular in Scottish primary schools. This is no surprise as the streets are full of scooters in the morning and every bike has a kiddy trailer.

Lastly if we look closely at the Scooter/Skate panel, there are a couple of grey lines that stick right out at the top of the panel. This means that these schools have an unusually large proportion of children getting to school by either scooter or roller skates.

Using this data we can chart by council area, where travelling to school by scooters/skates are the most popular:

Local Authority

Proportion of children arriving by Scooter/Skates

1. East Lothian


2. Midlothian


3. Edinburgh City


4. Clackmannanshire


5. South Ayrshire


6. Stirling


7. Falkirk


8. Fife


9. East Ayrshire


10. Perth & Kinross


Roman Popat is a data scientist at The Data Lab.