The Walking School Bus: Combining Safety, Fun and the Walk to School

In the search for ways to make walking to school safer, more fun and more convenient, communities are finding that walking school buses can make a real difference. 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. For more information about these programs, see the National Center for Safe Routes to School website (

Olive Chapel Elementary School, Apex, NC

Bailey Gatzert Elementary School, Seattle, WA

What is a Walking School Bus?

A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. That may sound simple, and that is part of the appeal. It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to school or as structured as a planned route with meeting points, a timetable and a schedule of trained volunteers.

A variation on the walking school bus is a bicycle train where a group of children and adult leaders ride together to school.

The Walking School Bus Guide

This guide is intended for parents, teachers, public health educators, bicycle clubs, Safe Route to School coordinators, law enforcement officers and others who care about increasing the number of children who walk and bicycle to school in a safe manner. Any one or combination of these individuals can lead a walking school bus program.

This guide outlines the benefits of starting a walking school bus as well as points to consider before launching it. Two general ways to conduct a walking school bus are described: (1) starting simple with a small group of friends or neighbors or (2) creating a more structured program to reach more children. The benefits, considerations and variations of each are detailed so that organizers can choose the approach that matches local needs. For communities with interest in starting a bicycle train, additional considerations are highlighted. Examples of real-life walking school buses and bicycle trains are
included to provide ideas and inspiration.

For more information read the sections below.