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.
Spare the Air youth has developed a SchoolPool Guidebook to sharing the trip to school in efficient, convenient, and fun ways.
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.
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.