Walking School 'buses'

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MissyJ's picture
Joined: 01/31/02
Posts: 3280
Walking School 'buses'

Would you like to see more of these programs? What downside(s) would you anticipate?
[h=1]School Districts Using ?Walking School Buses? To Fight Childhood Obesity, Improve Attendance[/h]

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4104

We do this on "Wednesday Walk Days," and sometimes we have competition days where the neighborhoods to the north, south, east, and west of the school each try to get the most kids walking to school. It's great fun for the kids, and I think it does get their brain & body revved up for learning, not still waking up when school is starting. Not all of the buses have a single volunteer the whole way; sometimes one parent will accompany the kids for a few blocks, then another takes over, then another, until the kids get to school. It takes some coordination but it's nice for those of us who can't devote an hour walking to school before moving on with our day.

I don't understand why that one district in Missouri dropped its proram for "funding issues." What is there to fund??? And why is there a waiting list? It's not like there are only X number of seats on a real bus. Color me confused... :confused:

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3320

Sounds great to me. Can't think of any downsides.

Wouldn't really work where I am but I think it sounds great for places where it would work.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3255

That would work great in my neighborhood. We do something like that, sometimes, but not quite so officially.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1537

I can see a downside if a school dist was counting on volunteers to facilitate this. We have some AMAZING volunteers at my school, but they do have lives, and jobs of their own so they are not always available.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6697

The major problem I would have with this, is making it safe. At the school district my husband worked at a 6 year old boy just got ran over and killed by a school bus. He dropped a toy and ran in front of the school bus to get it. How many adults would you need to keep that many children walking along side the road and not darting out into traffic? Are all of those adult background checked?

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3320

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

The major problem I would have with this, is making it safe. At the school district my husband worked at a 6 year old boy just got ran over and killed by a school bus. He dropped a toy and ran in front of the school bus to get it. How many adults would you need to keep that many children walking along side the road and not darting out into traffic? Are all of those adult background checked?

I don't think walking to school feels particularly more dangerous than riding a bus.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
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"KimPossible" wrote:

I don't think walking to school feels particularly more dangerous than riding a bus.

If you had 30 kids per 1 adult, then I think it would be.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

A school bus holds about what? 70 kids+? a driver has to watch the road, handle any discipline and make sure kids are safe.

I think this is a great idea in places that it can be done. I couldn't do that here as the schools are too far and we also have no sidewalks.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3255

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

The major problem I would have with this, is making it safe. At the school district my husband worked at a 6 year old boy just got ran over and killed by a school bus. He dropped a toy and ran in front of the school bus to get it. How many adults would you need to keep that many children walking along side the road and not darting out into traffic? Are all of those adult background checked?

If kids aren't running in front of school buses already, I don't see how this would change things. A couple of adults for a group of kids would be fine. That's a terrible story about the little boy but it doesn't mean all kids are running out into traffic. In our area, a ton of kids walk to school with their parents, and meet up with other kids along the way, and form larger packs as they go. It isn't really all that different.

And I don't need all the parents background checked to walk a group of 15-20 kids to school. The only situations that might require it would be one-on-one situations, not a huge group.

Seriously I would trust pretty much any parent of my kids' friends to walk them to school, whether or not I really know them.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

If kids aren't running in front of school buses already, I don't see how this would change things. A couple of adults for a group of kids would be fine. That's a terrible story about the little boy but it doesn't mean all kids are running out into traffic. In our area, a ton of kids walk to school with their parents, and meet up with other kids along the way, and form larger packs as they go. It isn't really all that different.

And I don't need all the parents background checked to walk a group of 15-20 kids to school. The only situations that might require it would be one-on-one situations, not a huge group.

Seriously I would trust pretty much any parent of my kids' friends to walk them to school, whether or not I really know them.

I am coming at this from the POV of having recently the child dying from being hit by a bus and from one of my daughters good friends serving 20-25 years for repetitively raping his children. At any school sponsored activity, anyone that has responsibility for the children has background checks. That includes bus drivers. I also think walking along side of the road is different than riding a bus.

I also am thinking of the roads near my house and the roads near where I grew up. There are no sidewalks. If it was a sidewalk and not the side of the road, then I think a lot of the safety issues could be addressed. To walk from my house to the closest local school would be rather dangerous and I would not do it with a young child. I am not even sure I would do it as you are talking about 7 lane hwys without sidewalks. You would need at least 1 adult per 2 kids. I would guess everyone's opinion on this would depend on where they live in relationship to the school.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

At any school sponsored activity, anyone that has responsibility for the children has background checks. That includes bus drivers.

Then i would think someone walking the kids to school, if its sponsored by the school, would not be treated differently.

I also think walking along side of the road is different than riding a bus.

Yes I think walking is probably statistically safer than riding in motor vehicles.

I also am thinking of the roads near my house and the roads near where I grew up. There are no sidewalks. If it was a sidewalk and not the side of the road, then I think a lot of the safety issues could be addressed. To walk from my house to the closest local school would be rather dangerous and I would not do it with a young child. I am not even sure I would do it as you are talking about 7 lane hwys without sidewalks. You would need at least 1 adult per 2 kids. I would guess everyone's opinion on this would depend on where they live in relationship to the school.

Well thats why i said it wouldn't work by me. Its a rural area, houses spread far apart, no sidewalks, narrow shoulders and huge tractor trailer trucks come by often.

I'm pretty sure no one is suggesting this is a viable option in places like that. But in a suburb or places with sidewalks everywhere I think its great and the safety concerns are no more than shipping your kid off on the big yellow bus.

For safety reference,

Walking or biking to school also makes for a safer commute. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, the majority of traffic-related deaths of school-age children happen to passengers in cars. In 2006, only 16 percent of children age 5 to 15 who died in traffic accidents were pedestrians.

Link: http://www.newsusa.com/articles/article/walking-to-school-safer-healthier-than-driving.aspx

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
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"KimPossible" wrote:

I'm pretty sure no one is suggesting this is a viable option in places like that. But in a suburb or places with sidewalks everywhere I think its great and the safety concerns are no more than shipping your kid off on the big yellow bus.

When I first responded to the post, in my mind I was only thinking of my roads. I did not even think of sidewalks. If sidewalks were available, and all workers had back ground checks then I think it would be ok but in my opinion those concerns would have to be addressed first.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3320

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

When I first responded to the post, in my mind I was only thinking of my roads. I did not even think of sidewalks. If sidewalks were available, and all workers had back ground checks then I think it would be ok but in my opinion those concerns would have to be addressed first.

Yeah I think it only works for houses within a certain distance of the school that actually have a walk-able route. I think its highly unlikely, except for in very heavily settled areas perhaps, that all kids from a school district could actually walk to school.

I'm kind of with Laurie on the background check thing. Doesn't really concern me that much in this particular case. Walking in public on busy streets in large groups where kids are expected to arrive at a destination by a specific time.

But I do get that a lot of schools do the background check thing now or have people go through courses if they want to volunteer...so i would find it surprising that this would be exempt.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3255

Right. I wasn't talking about highways and areas where people don't walk to school because they can't. Different issue!

I think making it less formal helps. Right now, in my neighborhood, a lot of kids walk and a lot of kids are driven. (We don't have local buses..if there's a bus it's bringing kids from another neighborhood, or disabled kids.) So at any given point during our walk, we run into other parents who are walking.

I like the safety idea of picking up kids along the way and all going in a pack. It's safer and it promotes community, and I like that.

Of course I am, like Bonita, thinking about my own neighborhood. When the weather is bad we drive the kids but otherwise we can walk, and there are sidewalks, and we pass at least 3 crossing guards along the way. The whole neighborhood is set up for this already. That's probably why it seems like such a no-brainer to me....I don't have the experience some of you guys have.

But I would NOT care about background checks for walking a big pack of kids to school. I also don't believe our school does background checks for volunteering...none of the volunteer positions involve one-on-one experiences with the kids anyway. Lots of parents volunteer in classrooms or do playground/lunch time supervision, events, fundraisers, etc. and there is no background check. We also can make baked goods for bake sales without any issue, so I think I just live somewhere that is lax about such things.

Joined: 03/14/09
Posts: 624

Although I do not see the need for volunteers, I am glad that kids are walking to school.

Children where I live are required to walk to school, although you can ask for exceptions (and in the case of typhoons or earthquakes things change). I have seen really good things from this- bigger kids take responsibility for smaller kids on their walking route, we know more neighbours, and my son burns off energy on his way to school so he can concentrate better. It's only a 1.25 mile walk, and kids walk it from 6 years old. Schools are built so that kids can walk to school, there really isn't anywhere they can't, unless they go to private schools (which normally have buses). I have absolutely no idea how it got to be that parents drive their kids half a mile to school, but that is a huge problem. The less cars on the road around a school, the safer the kids are.

Joined: 03/08/03
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Our school is close, but a lot of parents drive because they're on their way to work. Also if it's freezing outside I don't want to walk any more than my kids do, I hate the cold.

There are lots of good reasons to drive.

But as a kid we always (ALWAYS) walked and when it's my turn to take the kids (we take turns with a neighbor and team our kids up) I will walk whenever the weather's nice, and I'm not rushing off somewhere afterwards.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6697

"blather" wrote:

Although I do not see the need for volunteers, I am glad that kids are walking to school.

Children where I live are required to walk to school, although you can ask for exceptions (and in the case of typhoons or earthquakes things change). I have seen really good things from this- bigger kids take responsibility for smaller kids on their walking route, we know more neighbours, and my son burns off energy on his way to school so he can concentrate better. It's only a 1.25 mile walk, and kids walk it from 6 years old. Schools are built so that kids can walk to school, there really isn't anywhere they can't, unless they go to private schools (which normally have buses). I have absolutely no idea how it got to be that parents drive their kids half a mile to school, but that is a huge problem. The less cars on the road around a school, the safer the kids are.

Just to clarify, is there a school every couple of miles? Growing up I lived a good 10 miles from school. Here there are more elementary schools, but high schools, there is only one per part of town. Only a small fraction of students would live close enough to walk. I was just thinking it would take a huge amount of schools to have a school within 2 miles of every family everywhere.

ETA - That does not even address students who are disabled.

Joined: 03/08/03
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I would say pretty much everyone in my neighborhood is technically close enough to walk. There are four elementary schools and we can walk to at least two of them.

This whole issue is 100% neighborhood-dependent, you know? And region-dependent, because of weather.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3320

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

ETA - That does not even address students who are disabled.

I don't really think there is anything to address here. I don't think anyone is a proponent of taking away bus transportation for disabled students that can't walk.

Joined: 03/14/09
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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Just to clarify, is there a school every couple of miles? Growing up I lived a good 10 miles from school. Here there are more elementary schools, but high schools, there is only one per part of town. Only a small fraction of students would live close enough to walk. I was just thinking it would take a huge amount of schools to have a school within 2 miles of every family everywhere.

ETA - That does not even address students who are disabled.

I lived 30 miles from my first school so I rode a bus. After that I walked, as the schools were 2 or 3 miles, until junior high and high school when I went to out-of-district schools.

Yes, there are generally schools that close. A child is allowed to present alternatives if they live more than 5 km from a school, which doesn't happen often. There would never be a new subdivision planned 10 miles from the next school without putting a school in first. Planning is much more community based.

Also, I walked in the worst cold weather, up to -35C. If it's a regular occurrence, like cold or rainy season, I don't see why kids can't just get prepared for the weather and walk. Of course, in hurricanes or snow storms then I expect school to be closed anyway.

Joined: 03/08/03
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"blather" wrote:

Also, I walked in the worst cold weather, up to -35C. If it's a regular occurrence, like cold or rainy season, I don't see why kids can't just get prepared for the weather and walk. Of course, in hurricanes or snow storms then I expect school to be closed anyway.

I walked in the worst cold weather too, growing up in Toronto, and I hated it. The snow was fine, and fun to walk on, but the cold was miserable and I don't see much value in walking in it when there is an alternative. Those short walks -- my elementary school was pretty close -- felt like hours when it was just cold and wind and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Rain is fine, snow is fine, in my book. But that biting cold, where your nose feels like it's frozen solid, is a big part of Canadian winters and I wouldn't want my kids experiencing it since I hated it so much.