Posts Tagged ‘walking school bus’
Thursday, September 6th, 2012
The following post from Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, originally appeared in the Southwest Journal.
After Labor Day means back to school in many households, as well as a great chance to get outdoors while the weather is still mild. Bicycling and walking can be a fun and important part of these activities.
Consider Bicycling or Walking to School
If it seems like fewer kids are bicycling or walking to school these days, you are correct! According to Safe Routes to Schools, in 1969 about 50 percent of all children walked or bicycled to school and about 87 percent of kids lived within a mile of their schools. Today, fewer than 15 percent of schoolchildren walk or ride a bike to school.
The net result of this drop-off in school bicycling and walking: many kids today are less active, less independent and less fit than their parents and grandparents were at the same ages years ago. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Working with Safe Routes to School, schools are coming up with cool ways to make it safe and fun to get to school on two wheels or two feet. How? By organizing “walking school buses” or “bike trains.”
According to www.walkingschoolbus.org, a walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their kids to school or as structured as a route with meeting points, a timetable and a regularly rotated schedule of trained volunteers. A bike train is similar, with a supervised group of students riding bicycles on a pre-arranged route to school. Bicycle trains are best suited for older elementary school children.
A 2011 report on Safe Routes efforts at Minneapolis Public Schools describes how Lyndale Community School in South Minneapolis created a Walking School Bus. Before Lyndale School launched a walking bus program, parent-leader Scott Borden mapped four routes and did a practice run to make sure enough time was allowed at each stop. The school supported his efforts by creating participation forms and maps.
In the 2010-11 school year, Minneapolis district staff estimate that students who used the Walking School Bus logged a combined 3,200 miles. The report noted, “The Walking School Buses themselves are a form of advertising, as other parents and students see groups walking through the neighborhood or arriving at school together.”
Here are some tips and guidelines for walking or bicycling to school:
Walking to School
With a trusted adult, pick a route to and from school or the bus stop, practice it, and always use this route. Choose a route with the fewest street crossings. Avoid crossing busy streets. Walk on sidewalks whenever possible.
- Always cross at an intersection – at a corner. You can cross in the middle of a street if there is a painted crosswalk. Only cross where you are able to see both ways down the street.
- Never cross between parked cars. By avoiding crossing between parked cars, drivers can see you and avoid hitting you.
- Never run out into the street. Don’t assume cars can see you just because you can see them.
Bicycling to School
As with walking to school, plot out the best route and try it out ahead of time. For instance, avoid busy roads when there are quieter routes to the same place.
- Invest in a solid used or new bike that’s appropriately fitted to your child’s size. Include a U-shaped bike lock, and a light for the front of his/her bike and a rear reflector (both are required by law). There are many local bike shops that sell refurbished bicycles.
- Make sure your child has a helmet that fits properly, For visibility, your child should wear brightly-colored clothing, or at least fluorescent tape or markings on their clothing and/or backpack.
- Follow all the rules of the road. Always observe stop signs (even if no other vehicle is visible), yield signs and other traffic markers. Use extra caution when passing driveways and entrances to businesses and housing developments and when riding in parking lots. Encourage children to walk their bikes across busy intersections.
Two Upcoming Bike Rides in Northeast
Bike Walk Move is sponsoring two upcoming bike rides in Northeast Minneapolis. It’s your chance to directly see how Northeast is a wonderful, self-contained community with practically everything you need within 3 miles or less – that’s 20 minutes or less by bike!
Northeast Family & Shopping Ride
On Saturday, Sept. 15, from 9-11:30 a.m. Meet outside the Audubon Park & Recreation Center at 9 a.m. The City of Minneapolis Bike Walk Ambassadors will lead a family-friendly ride showcasing good routes for shopping in Northeast Minneapolis, including the Quarry and Eastside Co-op. Free bag to the first 20 who arrive.
Pedal to the Pubs
On Wednesday, Sept. 19, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Gather at YWCA on Nicollet Mall at 4:30. This ride includes a “geek tour” of bicycle routes to Northeast with stops at the Red Stag Supper Club, Behind Bars Bicycle Shop, and one other pub in Northeast. Learn good routes and how to keep riding as the seasons change. Free bag to first 20 who arrive.
For more information about these rides, visit bikewalkmove.org or e-mail email@example.com.
Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
For a group of parents in Minneapolis, the old admonishment, “When I was your age, we walked to school, uphill, both ways,” is losing its effectiveness. Now, their children can simply reply, “Me too.” That’s because families of the Lyndale Community School have built a robust walking school bus program, led by parent volunteers. Scott Bordon, one of the volunteers who spearheaded the effort, shares how they got started.
You lead and organize a “walking school bus” in the Lyndale neighborhood. Can you tell us what a “walking school bus” is and how you got involved?
The route actually starts in Kingfield and then crosses into the Lyndale neighborhood where Lyndale Community School is located. A walking school bus is similar to motorized yellow school bus in that it has a set route and schedule with pick up stops, but students walk instead of ride. Parent volunteers lead the route (at least one in front and back). Parents serve as crossing guards and utilize stop paddles and safety vests.
During Changing School Option, a Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) District effort to get students closer to home, we switched our children to Lyndale Community School. Although we lived just outside the walk zone at Lyndale, we and other parents were excited for our children to walk to school–and chose to completely forgo the school bus. What started with just a small effort grew to a school-wide initiative when Lyndale Principal Ossie Brooks-James said let’s participate in International Walk to School Day. As a result, Julie Danzl from the Minneapolis School District encouraged me to apply for a Safe Routes to School mini-grant. Being awarded $1,000 grant helped expand our efforts, allowing us to buy stop paddles and safety vests, make t-shirts, and expand to more routes.
What’s the difference between walking and taking the bus to school for your kids? Why not just take the regular morning bus?
The difference is huge. Our kids get a gentle start, in the sunlight, in the neighborhood–moving fluidly between friends, rather than in a “stay in your seat,” dark school bus. Walking to school also prepares them for independence in a way the school bus or being driven to school can’t–children learn their way around the neighborhood and how to navigate city streets safely. Neighbors and motorists smile and wave at the sight of the block-long line of children walking to school. I don’t think the yellow bus elicits the same reaction.
How many families are involved in your walking school bus? What kind of route do you take? How long does it take?
We have four different routes. The original route operates every day and has more than 30 children. All these children live outside the walk zone–a little more than half a mile away. This bus runs everyday, rain, sun, snow, and wind and has never been late (not too many fossil fuel buses can say that!). Students that once attended more than seven different schools now walk this route to Lyndale.
The other three other routes operate in the fall and spring one or two times a week. Those routes range from 10 to 30 children. The routes are mapped mainly based on availability of parent volunteers and proximity to students. These routes are about one mile long–but some students walk further to reach the first designated stop.
Kids love walking to school. At Lyndale, we are fortunate to have a culturally and economically diverse student population. There is enthusiasm for walking throughout Lyndale students. Often students embrace the idea of walking to school and their parents are the ones who need convincing. And the kids are proud when they have walked to school–they’ve accomplished something for themselves and also for the environment.
Have you heard of other walking school buses around the metro? The country? Is this a part of a growing nationwide trend you’ve noticed?
Yes. This simple idea “has legs” and is part of a solution for so many modern problems–pollution, obesity, school budget shortages, alienation and lack of community. People call me or Lyndale School regularly to learn how they can set up walking buses for their own children. This school year Minneapolis Public Schools will work to implement Safe Routes walk and bike to school programming in ten additional schools. You can find walking bus websites and videos from around the country.
What tips or advice do you have for other families or parents wanting to start their own neighborhood walking school bus?
All it takes is a few committed parent volunteers and a supportive administration. The National Center for Safe Routes to School is a great resource. Participating in International Walk to School Day is another great way to get involved. Once people walk together once–they will want to do it again. And again. At Lyndale we’ve added to the fun of walking to school with music, t-shirts, “I Walked/I Biked” stickers, special guest walkers (once, even Mayor R.T. Rybak) and a Walking Bus newsletter with student-voices and “news from the routes.” We’ve celebrated the arrival of the walking buses with Somali Tea. Our principal, teachers, and PTA have a “yes” attitude, a “let’s try it and see” perspective. I’d tell parents, “Go for it!” Figure out what works for your school community. One committed person can make all the difference.
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Downtown Journal. Now that Nice Ride bikes are tucked away for the winter, consider using the bus for your quick trips to lunch, meetings, doctor’s appointments, or shopping. Using Metro Transit is an ideal way
The following is a post written by Bri Whitcraft, Special Projects Coordinator, Bike Walk Twin Cities. It all started with a video as inspiration and a Tweet as declaration. (My mom thought it was a joke.) Map & Route From my home in South Minneapolis, I biked to St. Paul to borrow the trailer from
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Southwest Journal. Practical, affordable and surprisingly rewarding, winter bicycling has become increasingly popular in Minneapolis, recently named one of the top five cities in the nation for winter bicycle commuting by MetaEfficient. That’s amazing when