Walking School Bus: Let’s Get Moving!

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There’s nothing like summer in Seattle.

 

Blue skies, perfect temperature, and lots and lots of folks enjoying the outdoors after the previous nine months of rain. (Except maybe not this week — more like hazy skies and masks to block the smoke from British Columbia fires. Stay safe and check the air quality Seattle locals!)

 

I was recently enjoying the sunshine myself and flipping through Working Mother Magazine (Question: why is there not a “Working Parent” or “Working Father” magazine? That’s always bugged me—but again, I digress) when I read an article called “Reinvent the Carpool.” In it, Nancy Thompson, a certified urban planner and founder of the (oh so informative) website Useful Community Development, talked about creating a “human school bus” where parents take turns walking a group of students to school. With enough participation, she says that everyone will benefit without parents schedules being affected on a daily basis.

 

My family lives too far from school to walk to school, but I longed in that moment for a few days of the week where we weren’t scrambling to get all our things into the car and swiftly drive away. Rather, we’d just step out the front door, meet up with friends and neighbors and off we’d go. What a way to start the day.

 

 

The majority of Americans do live close enough to walk, and we love hearing about groups using Pogo Rides to coordinate their own walking school buses. They can easily organize the days, times, participants, chaperones, and—most important for parents—are notified when the group reaches school. Peace of mind, extra time, and a some exercise. The benefits are endless:

 

Get your daily steps in

 

We’ve all heard the statistics about obesity in this country. One-third of all American children are obese and 23% of children get no free-time physical activity at all. But by simply walking a half a mile to and from school each day, kids can knock out a big portion of their daily recommended physical activity.

 

The other major benefit to this is the ability for children to connect with one another prior to the school day, “overcoming the social isolation that comes from overwork, too much time alone in automobiles, and the use of social media, the computer, and the television instead of each other as entertainment” according to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

 

Save Mother Earth

 

 

And of course, walking or riding a bike to school means less cars on the road. “Returning to 1969 levels of walking and bicycling to school would save 3.2 billion vehicle miles, 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide and 89,000 tons of other pollutants—equal to keeping more than 250,000 cars off the road for a year” according to Safe Routes to School. Good for the air in your neighborhood, great for the planet.

 

Less Driving = More Pencils

 

Walking could save your school thousands of dollars a year—some statistics even saying it costs between $60k —$100k per bus route. Think of the places that money could go: teacher supplies, special programs, the arts, sports equipment. All things schools could use more of for their students.

 

So even though school hasn’t started for most families, now is the perfect time to pour yourself a glass of lemonade, head outside, take out your phone, pull up the Pogo app, and coordinate away. It’s super easy to set up a new “walking” carpool group in Pogo (here’s how!). Your free mornings and extra exercise are just around the corner.

 

Enjoy the sunshine!

 

Julia

 

Graphics credit: Safe Routes National Partnership

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