With the return to in-person instruction next week, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) Safe Routes to Schools program is encouraging parents to organize a “Walking School Bus” to enable young students to safely walk to schools in their neighborhoods. Walking school buses provide a safe and fun way for children to get physical activity as they travel to and from school with adult supervision.
A walking school bus is a parent-organized effort similar to a carpool group but rather than share driving responsibilities, adults supervise a group of kids walking to and from school. Each “bus” walks along a set route, with one or more adults leading the group of children. The walking group picks up, or drops off, children at designated stops, similar to a traditional school bus. Walking school buses also provide a safe way for parents to help each other with the demands of getting children to and from school in an outdoor and socially distanced manner.
“Ensuring the safety of children walking to school is our priority,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “The ‘Walking School Bus’ program is a great option for families who are rethinking the ways they get to and from school. This is a safe, healthy, and environmentally friendly program.”
Safe Routes to School programs, which encourage and enable children to safely walk and bicycle to school, often include walking school buses in their activities. A variation on the walking school bus is a bicycle train where a group of children and adult leaders ride to school together.
There are many benefits to participating in a Walking School Bus, including:
- Increasing daily physical activity
- Opportunities to learn about and practice road safety
- Saving money on gas and reduce car emissions
- Reducing traffic in school zones
- Meeting other families and making new friends
- It is fun
“We are encouraging students to stay healthy, active and safe by walking to school,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “Walking school buses are a great opportunity to teach children about traffic safety, it strengthens community ties and helps to reduce traffic and carbon emissions.”
MCDOT offers free resources to get parents and volunteers started. For more information visit, https://bit.ly/3sGvPRB and subscribe to the Safe Routes To School newsletter here.
For ongoing updates, follow @MCDOTNow on Twitter, visit the department website at montgomerycountymd.gov/mcdot and subscribe to MCDOT’s ‘Go Montgomery!’ newsletter.