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Walking School Buses & Bike Trains

Solano Browns Valley

Parents and guardians often cite distrust of strangers, traffic safety concerns, and lack of time as reasons why they do not allow their children to walk or bike to school. Walking School Buses and Bike Trains provide adult supervision as they walk to school.

Walking School Buses and Bike Trains are formed when a group of children accompanied by one or more adults walk or bike together to school. Routes can originate from a particular neighborhood or, in order to include children who live too far to bicycle, begin from a park, parking lot, or other meeting place (a park-and-walk). As the walking school bus continues on the route to school, the group picks up students at designated meeting locations.

Walking School Buses and Bike Trains can be informal arrangements between neighbors with children attending the same school or official school-wide endeavors with trained volunteers and structured meeting points with a pick-up timetable. These can be organized via a Back-to-School Blitz through a Carpooling/Ride Matching Program, or during a Walk and Roll to School Day.

Alameda County Safe Routes to School has a Walking School Bus brochure that highlights the benefits of joining or forming a walking school bus. Watch the video below to learn about the benefits of walking school buses and bike trains. The video was produced by MTC with 511, TransForm, and the Alameda County Safe Routes to School Program.

The Solano Transportation Authority and Solano County Public Health have teamed to encourage parents to form Walking School Buses. Their efforts were highlighted in a recent article in the Daily Republic, titled 'Walking school buses’ could be start of trend.

The National Center for Safe Routes to School has Walking School Bus Instructions, and a guide to Starting a Walking School Bus: The Basics and San Francisco has a Walking School Bus and Bike Train Flier from SR2S San Francisco.

To help get a Walking School bus started, Sonoma SR2S has a Walking School Bus initial outreach sample in English and in Spanish. Sonoma SR2S also has a flyer template in English and in Spanish that can be used to start a Walking School Bus. To find leaders, or captains, to supervise a group, a Captain Enrollment Form is available in English and in Spanish. Another resource to find more families interested in starting or joining a Walking School Bus is the Walk and Roll Wednesdays sign-up form, also in English and in Spanish.

Bike Trains are another good way to get to school and are best suited for older students who have undergone bicycle safety training. Groups can designate an “Engineer” who sets the example for safe bicycling, and a “Caboose” who makes sure no one is left behind. Also, helmets and parent waivers should be required before students can participate in a bike train. A good resource on bike trains is Metro Atlanta Safe Routes to School Project's Guidelines for Bike Train Engines and Cabooses.

Kidical Mass is a legal, safe, and fun bike ride for kids and their families. The events are family-friendly bike rides through a community and are organized by a school, community group, or other organization. The ride can correspond with other family-friendly events or informational opportunities.