Park and Walk

Walking to Kendallvue Elementary in Morrison, Colorado.

A pre-determined parking lot acts as the meeting area for families who drive and then park and walk the remaining distance to school. Some communities require parents to walk with their children to school while others have designated adult volunteers to walk groups of children from the parking area to school.

Park and walk campaigns have the potential to reduce traffic congestion around a school and encourage physical activity for parents and children. This strategy is especially helpful for including families who live too far from the school to walk or who do not have a safe route to school.

Strategy: Park and walk

Definition

Instead of driving to the school, families drive to a remote parking lot and walk the remainder of the trip.

Advantages

  • Includes families who live too far to walk or have an unsafe route.
  • Encourages neighborhood involvement.
  • Reduces traffic congestion at the school.

Considerations

  • Requires identifying a safe route from the parking area to the school.
  • Requires working with the parking lots owner.

Quick steps to a park and walk activity

  1. Locate a parking lot within walking distance of the school. Work with lot owner to allow use.
  2. Map a safe route to school from parking area.
  3. Recruit volunteers if parents are not required to walk with their children.
  4. Promote it.
  5. Kick off.
  6. Track participation.
  7. Make changes to the activity as needed.

Putting It Into Practice: Park and Walk With a Walking School Bus

Arborfield, Newland and Barkham C.E. Junior School, Arborfield, England

Arborfield, Newland and Barkham C.E. Junior School Walking School Bus, Arborfield, England

In order to ease congestion around Arborfield, Newland and Barkham C.E. Junior School, the school's council established a School Travel Plan in March 2004. The plan includes a walking school bus that leaves from a designated parking area where parent volunteers supervise the children's walk to school.

After the plan was created, organizers asked parents to register their children and also to volunteer to lead the walking school buses. A local organization gave permission for the school to use its parking lot as the designated area for parents to meet the walking school bus. Children who participated were required to register each day, wear a fluorescent jacket and leave the lot at the predetermined time guided by volunteers.

As an incentive for children, school officials regularly ask special guests—like Santa Claus in December—to join their walks to school. School officials report many benefits of their activities: walking school buses are free of capital costs, and they help ease congestion and pollution. The children enjoy the walk, make new friends and have the opportunity to see things around them that they might miss if they were driven to school.

See Park and Walk—The Walking Bus for more information.

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