A School Bus without an Engine

headshot for katy lang program director active transportation arlington va
Katy Lang Tweet Us @walkarlington@walkarlington August 31, 2018

Katy Lang is the Program Director for Active Transportation. She started living car-free in Arlington in 2010 and is passionate about finding great running routes and safety for people walking and biking.

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What kind of school bus doesn’t have an engine? A walking one!

A walking school bus is an arrangement where kids walk to school together. It can be as informal as two families agreeing to walk together once a week or as formal as having volunteers on multiple routes assisting children with walking every day of the week.

Children Benefit from Walking to School

The rate of children walking to school has decreased dramatically over the past few decades, due to automobile-centric development patterns and concerns about safety. However, research has shown that walking to school improves mental alertness, increases social well-being and a sense of independent decision-making, and helps kids meet the government-recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

Establish a Walking School Bus

Back to school means many things, including homework, packing lunches, after school activities, and most of all, reestablishing or creating new weekday routines. As you think ahead to the first week of school, consider keeping your car in park and walking with your kids to school by creating a walking school bus. Here’s a few tips to get started:

  1. Plan your route ahead of time (maybe even do a test run on the weekend) and leave a little early so you can walk at your kids’ pace and not feel rushed.
  2. Find out if other families nearby are interested in walking with you. You can all walk together or rotate responsibility for walking. Depending on the age of your children, someone may always need to walk with the kids all the way to school. If the kids are older, families can rotate serving as “corner monitors” that check in with the kids as they pass.
  3. You may also want to let the school know about your walking school bus so that other families can join in and so the school can celebrate it.
  4. Talk with the kids about walking safety, such as looking both ways. If they are walking without an adult, make sure they know what do to if they encounter an unfamiliar or unsafe situation (e.g., construction along their normal route).

Additional information and resources about starting a walking school bus and how to get more people from your neighborhood involved are available through Arlington Public Schools’ Safe Routes to School program.

Share Your Walks

We’d love to see your walking school bus in action as your kids head back to school. Share your walks with WalkArlington on Twitter and Instagram and tag #ArlingtonWalks.

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