When walking or cycling to school, a child will develop physical, decision-making and social skills that will benefit them throughout their life. However, many parents have concerns about allowing their children to walk or cycle to school without supervision. One solution is to organize a Walking School Bus or Bicycle Train. This strategy supports and promotes the walk or cycle to school, and has multiple benefits for your neighbourhood, school, families and students.
Some of the benefits of a Walking School Bus or Bicycle Train program include:
- Convenience for families: Only a few parents or older students are needed on a daily basis to supervise a Walking School Bus or Bicycle Train, leaving others free to go about their day knowing their child will arrive at school safely and on time.
- Pedestrian and cycling safety education: Walking and cycling with adults or older students not only ensures a safe trip to school, it's also a great chance for children to model and learn safe walking and riding skills. To ensure that children benefit from safe pedestrian and cycling education as part of your school initiative, establish bicycle skills and safety programs and pedestrian education to ensure that all Walking School Bus or BicycleTrain leaders and students are aware of and model basic road safety rules.
- Healthier communities: Active children are more likely to be active adults, and with child obesity on the rise, encouraging children to exercise as part of a day to day journey provides motivation to lead a healthy lifestyle. Children will also experience the health benefits which result from improved air quality and safer streets.
- Trips to and from school that are fun!: Children love walking and wheeling with their friends. It gives them a chance to visit and chat, and to observe nature and community interactions along the way. It gives them a chance to release some energy before class and wind down afterwards. Many schools organize special events with artwork, food, music and prizes to launch Walking School Buses and Bicycle Trains each year. Some schools also reward classes and individuals who have participated throughout the year to recognize and celebrate their effort.
- Stronger communities: More children walking through the neighborhood brings a greater sense of community and awareness about health and safety. Walking School Bus and Bicycle Train programs offer meaningful opportunities for community involvement: older students can take part and volunteer; teachers can be asked to incorporate related safety, health and transportation themes into their curriculum; and community members such as the local police can be part of supporting your school traffic safety education.
Healthier children: A UK study demonstrated that children who walk to school burn more calories than those who are driven. The number of calories burned weekly through walking to school is the equivalent of two hour-long classes of physical education. (Mackett R.L., Reducing children’s car use: the health and potential car dependency impacts(PDF, 159 KB)
Start a Walking School Bus or Bicycle Train in your school community and watch its popularity and impact grow!