Encouraging your child to walk or bike to school is a way to instill in him or her the active habits that can contribute to a lifelong healthy lifestyle. But in addition to health benefits, there are intangible benefits as well. Many parents who have participated in a Walk to School Day or Bike to School Day say that the active trip to school has been a valuable way for them to spend time with their children and to socialize with other parents and neighbors.
As a parent, you hold the keys to your children being able to walk and bicycle to school. The links below can help you make an informed decision about the type of commute to school that your child has the opportunity to experience.
Some parents voice a concern that by not driving their child to school, they’ll sacrifice quality time together. Or they may have concerns about traffic along the route to school. It’s always a good idea for parents to walk or ride with their children to assess the route and their child’s pedestrian or bicycling abilities.
Some families simply live too far away, or where there aren’t safe places to walk or ride. Creativity can spur all kinds of solutions, like places to park and then walk or ride the remainder of the route. Sometimes there are no good solutions yet, but for those who are passionate, letting desires for safe walking and bicycling routes to school be known by community leaders can be the first step toward creating a more livable community for everyone to enjoy.
Questions and Answers
Parents often have questions about the event. Below are some common questions and answers.
Who can participate?
Ideally, a Walk or Bike to School Day involves ALL students, including those with disabilities and those who live too far to walk or bicycle from home. Parents should be invited to join the walk or ride.
Do you really expect me to let my children walk or bike to school on their own?
Especially at the elementary school level, parents should be invited to walk to school with their children. At the middle school level, some students may be independent enough to walk or bike without parents, but that is the parent’s decision. Parents should assess the route and determine if their child has the skills to walk or bicycle on his or her own.
What’s the route? How far is it?
Each school needs to determine the safest and best ways for students to walk or bicycle to school. Event announcements should include information about planned routes, meet-up locations and parking availability. Some parents may want to check out or ride the route in advance with their children to gauge their readiness.
Do I need to sign-up in advance or just show up? Is there a permission form?
This will vary from school to school, however, requesting advance sign-up will help coordinators plan for the event and may make people more committed to showing up on the day of the event. On the other hand, a sign-up can be “one more thing” that becomes a barrier for busy families. The school administration should decide if a permission form is necessary based on school policies.
What happens if it rains?
Coordinators should state in event announcements ahead of time whether the event will be held “rain or shine,” or whether there will be an alternate rain date.
What should my child wear?
Encourage participants to wear brightly colored clothing and comfortable shoes for walking or biking. Many states require children to wear a bike helmet when riding a bicycle. Even if it is not required by law, your child should always wear a helmet to prevent a head injury in the event of a crash.