Welcome to the walking school bus

by Michaella

School buses...terminally unhip or ripe for a green-over?

Elizabeth Wilson, a transportation researcher at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota notes there is a change in school transportation for several reasons: "a rise in car ownership; one-child families, often leery of sending students off to school on their own; cuts in school-bus service or charges for it as a result of school-budget cutbacks and fuel-price gyrations; and the decline of neighborhood schools and the rise of school choice, meaning that students often live farther from where they learn."

However, some changes are good.  For instance, to combat childhood obesity and reduce global warming walking school buses have become a new trend.  Walking school buses are evident in both the United States and European countries.  According to the National Household Travel Survey "In 1969, 40 percent of students in the United States walked to school; in 2001, the most recent year data was collected, 13 percent did."

This is a great way for children to become active, enjoy the fresh air, and form stronger bonds with their classmates. Under adult supervisions family members pick a place for children to meet up.  From there each child pairs up with a buddy and hold hands as they walk towards their school.  Of course, for those people are unable to walk to school due to distance or safety reasons can certainly take alternative transportation such as carpooling,riding the school bus, or bicycling to school.

Check out these links  to see a walking school bus trip in New Jersey and Germany.  If you wish to engage your community on starting the walking school bus system, click on this link for a walkability checklist.