Walking School Bus and Bicycle Trains

A walking school bus and bicycle train both consist of groups of students accompanied by adults that walk or bicycle a pre-planned route to school. Routes can originate from a particular neighborhood or, in order to include children who live too far to walk or bicycle, begin from a parking lot. They may operate daily, weekly or monthly. Often, they are started in order to address parents’ concerns about traffic and personal safety while providing a chance for parents and children to socialize.

Walking school buses and bicycle trains can be loosely structured or highly organized. For example, walking school buses or bicycle trains can be as simple as neighborhood families deciding to walk or bicycle together. More formal, organized walking school buses and bicycle trains have a coordinator who recruits volunteers and participants, creates a schedule and designs a walking route. While requiring more effort, more structured walking school buses and bicycle trains offer the opportunity to involve more children.

Get a strategic look at walking school buses and bicycle trains and for some example programs, visit the national Safe Routes to School site.

Walking School Bus
A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. That may sound simple, and that is part of the appeal. It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to school or as structured as a planned route with meeting points, a timetable and a schedule of trained volunteers.

For more detailed guidance, visit the national Safe Routes to School site.

To view the previously aired webinar How to Build a Walking School Bus Program from Grass Roots Up: Best Practices in Design, Implementation and Dissemination, click here.

For training in setting up a walking school bus program, The Walking School Bus Program: A Primer and First Steps, created by the National Center for Safe Routes to School in partnership with PedNet Coalition – a national leader in developing Walking School Bus programs – seeks to highlight important planning tips and strategies for planning a walking school bus program. Participants will gain an understanding of how to prepare, build momentum and launch a walking school bus program, including identifying community partners, and securing program funding. Walking School Bus

Bicycle Trains
For communities that want to encourage bicycling to school, a bicycle train offers a safe, fun way to ride as a group. Because of the equipment involved and the potential need to ride on a road, planning and conducting a bicycle train is more involved than having a walking school bus. Basic considerations are outlined below.

  • Bicycle trains are best suited for older elementary children.
  • All riders must wear bicycle helmets.
  • Before starting the program, providing children with practice and training on bicycle handling and rules of the road is recommended.
  • More adult supervision is needed than for walking. One adult for every three to six children is recommended.
Get a strategic look at walking school buses and bicycle trains read about successful programs on the National Center for Safe Routes to School site.