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Encouragement

Groups of students walking along a sidewalkEncouragement strategies include programs and events that promote walking and bicycling to school and generate enthusiasm with students, parents, staff and the surrounding community. By promoting walking and bicycling to school, encouragement programs not only support students physical activity, they also reduce the number of vehicles in the school zone during arrival and dismissal, making it safer for all. These programs increase students’ enthusiasm about walking and biking and help raise awareness about the benefits of Safe Routes to School. Below are a variety of encouragement examples, from one-day events to year-round ongoing programs.

Special Events

One-day special events are a common way for schools to help make walking and biking more fun and rewarding for kids and can be used to make walking and biking to school a habit. Educators, school staff, and all other team members should be involved in planning and promoting events, contests, and incentives in order for them to be successful.

  • Encouragement Guide [.pdf] –This guide highlights fun and rewarding contests and incentives that encourage students to walk or bike to school, including a variety of special events.
  • Frequent Walker Customizable Punch Card - Students can get their cards punched every time they walk or bike to school, and receive small tokens or rewards for filling up their cards.
  • Bike Fix Days – These organized after-school events allow elementary students to get their hands dirty, turn wrenches and learn basic bike repair and maintenance skills from school faculty or professional bike mechanics. From changing a flat tire to adjusting brakes to dialing in shifting, bike fix days aim to empower youth to take care of their own bicycles.
  • Bike Rodeos – Bike rodeos are fun events that provide children with a basic understanding of effective cycling. Bike rodeos often have multiple stations that teach bicycling skills and educate about bike safety and the rules of the road. BikeMN created a bike rodeo 101 guide to help schools or communities start their own bike rodeo and they also provide help communities with bike rodeos.

Walk or Bike to School Days

Students walking along a sidewalkWalk and Bike to School Days build support and enthusiasm for walking and bicycling to school and provide confidence to parents who have kids participating. These two events each happen on one day per year – early October for Walk to School Day, and early May for Bike to School Day. These events can give parents and school officials a taste of what it’s like to have a day without traffic congestion in front of the school during drop off and pick up and can help you identify parents and staff who may be interested in doing more. Here are some resources to help plan for a one-day event. More ideas and resources are also available at walkbiketoschool.org.

  • Walk and Bike to School Events Tipsheet [.pdf] – This three-page guide provides ideas for planning a successful Walk or Bike to School Day. It’s ok to start small with an event and build on the program’s success next year!
  • Minneapolis Public Schools’ Bus Stop and Walk Program – The Bus Stop and Walk Programs involves students who take the bus in Walk to School Day by working with the yellow school bus transportation provider to unload students at a park away from school and walk along a designated route to school with classmates, staff and volunteers.
  • Walk to School Day Customizable flier – Use this customizable flier to promote Walk to School day.
  • Bike to School Day Customizable flier – Use this customizable flier to promote Bike to School day.

Ongoing Programs & Activities

Walking School Bus

Children holding homemade pro-health signsA walking school bus is a group of students with adult leaders who, much like a school bus, make stops along a defined route to pick up students on the way to and from school.  This is a great way for busy parents to feel comfortable with their children walking to school, and to overcome safety concerns along the route.

Bus Stop and Walk Events

Children walking with a sign that says, "Hey! I just met you and this is crazy but let's be healthy so walk with me maybe?Kids and parents meet at a specific location to walk to school together. Minneapolis Public Schools, Red Wing schools and others have held regular bus stop and walk events, as well as used the bus stop and walk model for special events like Walk to School Day. Some Minnesota schools have seen nearly 100 percent walk or bike participation rates on special event days.

Bicycle Trains

A bicycle train is an organized bike ride to and from school. It is supervised by chaperones who work with students to assure everyone’s safety and fun. Students may begin riding to school from one designated location or be picked up at designated stops along the way. Bike trains are lots of fun and promote safe bicycling habits and healthy lifestyles.
Keep in mind that bicycle trains are more involved than walking school buses. But when a bike train is organized well, it can be a rewarding experience for both the students and the adult leaders. Learn some tips on setting up and maintaining a bike train from this helpful tipsheet.

Spotlight: Minnesota Success Story

Success story

Encouragement in Minneapolis

Minneapolis Public Schools are encouraged to implement Bus Stop & Walk programs. With Bus Stop & Walk, school buses unload away from the school campus and walk along a designated route to school together to complete their trip. Learn about Loring Community School’s Bus Stop & Walk program.

Do you know of a local success story? Tell us about it by emailing saferoutes.dot@state.mn.us!