Research shows that exercise, including walking and biking, helps kids with brain development and long-term health. Of course, Safe Routes to School programs also offer plenty of other benefits to your school and community!
The resources on this page will help parents start or get involved in Safe Routes to School programs so that children—and their classmates—can walk and bike to school safely.
Every successful Safe Routes to School program has strong parent champions: those who recognize the benefits of Safe Routes to School and are willing to take the necessary steps to create a more walkable and bikeable school community. Parents can help develop Safe Routes to School programs by providing insight on parent concerns, facilitating peer-to-peer conversations with other parents and assisting in identifying barriers to walking and bicycling along school routes.
To start a successful and long-lasting program, it is important to assemble a Safe Routes to School Team made up of school staff, parents and community members. The following resources can help you gather your team and start working on an Safe Routes to School plan at your school!
Walk to School Day and Bike to School Day events are a great way to launch or grow a Safe Routes to School program. These events show kids how fun it can be to walk to school with their friends, and may help you identify parents and staff who may be interested in doing more. Tips on organizing an event:
Walking to school with a group of students and an adult chaperone is a fun way to get exercise and a safer way to get to school. Parents are often the lead organizers of walking school buses - a group of students with adult leaders that walk to and from school together and “make stops” along a defined route to pick up students. For parents, leading a walking school bus creates an opportunity to teach children important safety skills and build relationships in the school community. The concept allows busy parents to share the responsibilities of walking to school with their children, and provides kids with freedom, exercise, and fun with friends.
One key factor in keeping kids safe as they walk and bike to school is teaching them safety skills. Parents can influence how their children behave on their way to school. Here are some safety guidelines every parent should know:
“You need to volunteer. You need to get out there with them. It’s a good way for the parents to get to know the other kids,” said one parent volunteer from Elton Hills Elementary in Rochester. Parents from that Elton Hills Elementary came together to kick-start a successful walking school bus program that functions year-round, even through the winter!
Have more questions or concerns about Safe Routes to School? See a list of common concerns for parents.