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How to: Start a walking school bus

By Aviva Canada on

Active transportation is any form of human-powered transportation, including walking, cycling and wheeling (rollerblading, skateboarding, scootering).

According to Transport Canada, active transportation directly benefits public health and safety. Participating in active transportation allows greater physical activity, which is linked to improved public health outcomes. It also improves the overall performance and safety of the transportation network through reduced congestion.

Yet, over 60% of Canadian parents say their children are always driven to school, not realizing this has more risk of injury from both a motor vehicle collision as well as reducing the child’s physical activity.

What is a Walking School Bus?

The Walking School Bus is a fun and engaging way to promote active transportation in your community. It consists of a group of children walking to and from school together, under adult supervision. Similar to a school bus, the Walking School Bus has designated “stops” along the way, picking up children as it moves along its route.

How to start a Walking School Bus in your community.

Step 1: Get started – Gauge interest in a Walking School Bus from local parents and community members.

Step 2: Plan a route – Obtain a map of the school’s boundaries from the school district. Plot interested community members’ locations on the map and determine the best route for the Walking School Bus. Take into consideration the availability of sidewalks, crosswalks and major intersections.

Step 3: Train adult volunteers – First, determine how many adult volunteers are needed to walk with children. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend one adult for every six children. If children are age 10 or older, fewer adults may be needed. If children are ages 4 to 6, one adult per three children is recommended. Then, test the route with volunteers and make note of traffic safety rules and signs to obey.  

Step 4:  Receive consent and inform stakeholders - Receive consent from local families using these templates from the Hub for Active School Travel. Inform your local police unit and school to see if they can help by providing additional pedestrian safety tips or including news of the Walking School Bus in local school or community publications.

Step 5: Launch your bus and monitor closely to make any adjustments for new students, new stops, or safer crossings.

Active transportation improves the overall performance and safety of the transportation network.

Show us your bus!

Start planning your Walking School Bus today and kick-off the bus on International Walk to School Day - Wednesday October 2, 2019. Share your experience and photos with us on social media: tag @AvivaCanada and use #TakeBackOurRoads and you could be featured here!


The content in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional or expert advice from Aviva