Creating a Walking School Bus

Safe Guidelines and Tips

Very simply, Walking School Buses and Rolling Bike Trains are  groups of children that walk or bike to school together accompanied by one or more adults. Generally, parents meet at a common location and  walk to school, picking up bus “riders” along the way. A Walking School Bus helps introduce the concept of walking and biking to school and help parents understand how easy it can be. They also serve as the education and encouragement foundation for potential future Safe Routes to School grant funding opportunities.

Walking School Bus

Walk ‘n Rollers Safety Guidelines Brief A one page PDF to print and distribute.

Your activity can be as simple or as structured as you like. We suggest starting informally with a few friends until your route and timing are down, then promoting the route to others. Be aware that the more structured it is, the more volunteers you’ll need and the more time time it will take to organize.

Here are the essentials to start a walking school bus:

  1. Invite families who live near you to walk or bicycle as a group.
  2. Select a route, then take a test walk or ride.
  3. Decide how often the group will travel together – monthly, weekly, daily?
  4. Start early and be sure to allow a little extra time. It will take a few tries for individuals to get on the same timetable.
  5. Start walking or bicycling!

If you choose to have multiple meeting points, due to the logistics of your school, identify those points and choose appropriate routes. It helps to select meeting points with easy, safe parking to allow parents who must drive to participate more easily. Also, identify a coordinator for each of your meeting points. Strive to recruit additional volunteers as the program continues and grows.

Rolling Bike TrainOnce your event becomes established, a few precautions are recommended:

  1. Encourage parents to walk with their children unless you have enough volunteers. In some cases, waivers may be necessary to address liability concerns. Note: Safe Routes to School best practices suggest 1 parent for every 5 children.
  2. Be sure that bicycle train participants wear helmets and understand the rules-of-the-road in your area. A brief discussion before starting out is encouraged.
  3. If this is the first time for some children to ride their bikes to school, we suggest a demonstration on how to lock bikes properly.
  4. Begin each event with a brief safety talk. This can also be done as parents walk with the children. Points to cover include:
  • Always look for cars and make eye contact. Remember that just because it is your turn to cross does not mean that it is safe to cross. Do not trust that cars will obey the rules or that turning cars will see you. Drivers are supposed to obey the rules and watch for people walking. But you cannot count on them to always remember. Note: Parents should lead the children through intersections. If you have a large group, it may be necessary for a volunteer to stay in the intersection until all the children are across.
  • Stay on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks or paths, walk facing traffic as close to the edge of the roadway as possible.
  • Watch for cars turning or pulling out of driveways.
  • Cross at signalized intersections whenever possible. Discuss pedestrian signals. Obey traffic signs and signals.
  • Look left, right and left again. Check behind you and in front of you for turning cars.
  • Wait until no traffic is coming and begin crossing. Keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing.
  • Walk, don’t run across the street. Running children can trip and cause injury.

When you are ready to take your event to the next level, we can help. From conducting parent surveys to evaluating interest, to promoting the activity and developing an ongoing encouragement campaign, Walk ‘n Rollers is uniquely qualified to help your school create a successful and personalized event. Contact us for more information.