August is National Back to School Month! When we think of back to school, getting supplies, backpacks, and clothes come are top concerns. Besides shopping for new clothes and supplies, and planning school schedules– planning how to get to school is also important. Spend some time with your children to share some tips that will help them get to school safe, energized and ready to learn. First, remember, walking and biking are great ways to get children in the mood to learn. Next, take a walk or bike ride with your kids to their school or bus stop and encourage them to make it their usual way to get to school. We have put together some resources to help you figure out how to get your children walking and biking to school safely.
- Make sure younger children know their home address and phone number and who to call if they need help.
- Map the route and practice walking or biking to school with your child. Ask GMTMA for assistance to find a route.
- Practice walking safety skills – you can find a refresher here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLxLYdLgzwQ
- Practice biking safety skills – you can find a refresher here https://www.childrens.com/health-wellness/riding-a-bike-to-school
- Organize a Walking School Bus and use the Walking School Bus App to organize walks to/from school. Parents can create walking groups and invite neighbors to join, plan walks to and from school, assign parent leaders to walk with students, group text within the app, and alert parents when students have arrived safely at school. App available here.
- Or organize a Bike Train- a group of children biking to school together accompanied by an adult. You could use the Walking School Bus App to organize a bike train too.
- Ask us to help with a school travel plan in your community. GMTMA works with schools and towns to create a plan to improve pedestrian and bicycle travel to and from school. A School Travel Plan identifies current walking patterns, where students would walk and bike if they could, and what changes need to be made so that students can and will walk and bike to school. The plan identifies short and long-term solutions and is supporting material for grant applications.
- Ask us to help with a walkability audit in your community. Students, parents, and interested community members can get involved in improving the walkability and bikeability of their community by conducting “audits” of the area around the school. GMTMA can provide audit checklists and facilitate this outdoor activity.
- Hold a Bike and Pedestrian Safety presentation at your school to help students learn about walking and biking safety. GMTMA’s presentations are tailored to grade level and different ages.
- Conduct a bicycle rodeo/skills clinic in your community. These are held during or after school, usually in a parking lot, where kids can practice riding a bike, reinforce and practice basic biking safety skills, and learn how to properly fit a helmet. GMTMA can help organize these and may be able to provide helmets.
We hope these tips and resources help you make a walk and bike to school plan and if you have any questions, you can always contact us. Have fun!