There’s so much to do to get students ready for returning to school. Be sure to make a plan that incorporates safe and fun ways to help students get to school using active transportation.
This is also a great time for your students to begin new habits and routines. In addition to starting their day with physical activity, inspiring your students to use active transportation methods to get to school can lead to the following benefits:
- Students who show up to school ready to learn
- Higher student achievement and academic performance
- Less traffic and better air quality around the school
- Potentially a shorter commute
Even with the above benefits, it can be difficult to find an active transportation option that makes you feel confident and safe. Here are three important things to consider when planning for the various ways your students could get to school.
Walkers & Bikers
- Plan and try the walking/biking route before school starts. Make a fun evening practicing walking/biking to school with the family that includes a trip to the playground. In this way, you won’t be rushed and can go over the pedestrian or biking skills needed along the route, and the family can have fun at the playground.
- Think bright and light when shopping: Purchase backpacks and jackets in bright colors and reflective materials so your students can be seen easily while walking or biking to school. Look for a backpack with a padded back and wide straps to ensure comfort while being active.
- Start a Walking School Bus or Bike Train: Connect with other parents within the neighborhood and along the route. Work together or rotate who will supervise the students during the commute each week or month.
- Stay out of the street and stand at least six feet away from the curb while waiting for the bus.
- Approach the bus only when other traffic has stopped. Wait until the bus is fully stopped with the doors open before approaching. When crossing the street to approach, make sure other traffic is stopped and that you have the OK to proceed from the bus driver.
- Always cross the street in front of the bus. When crossing a road to approach the bus or exit the bus, cross at least 10 feet in front of the bus and make eye contact with the driver of the bus as you cross.
- Avoid distractions and be aware that students are out on the road: Make sure phones are put away during the commute and radio volume is low so that students can be heard in and around the buses and other cards. When driving, proceed with caution.
- Follow all signs on the way and at the school drop off area regarding speed limits, bus warnings, and no parking/standing. Make safe driving a priority to ensure students who walk, bike and bus to school are safe.
- Consider a Remote Drop: Save yourself time in the drop off line by identifying an alternative location to park where you can walk a short distance to school with your student. You’ll get the benefits of the walk, less traffic to navigate, and reduce emissions directly around the school.
- Include information about active travel options on the school website. Highlight any walking school buses, walking routes, remote drop off locations, changes to bus stops, and proper drop off procedures. While you have their attention, share this information with parents during orientation, along with the link to the school website.
- Share any maps, routes, Safe Routes to School program tips, and other pertinent information on the school website, via email, and/or in school newsletters.
- Set an example: Support staff that walk or bike to school, encourage staff to lead a walking school bus, and lift up staff as featured celebrities when joining a walking route for special walking or biking days.
Creating a climate of respect and cooperation for the various active transportation modes students use to get to school will help to keep students safe and out of harm’s way.