Each year, schools across the nation celebrate National Bike to School Day to kick off National Bike Month. In Philadelphia, we celebrate Walk and Bike to School Day to encourage walking and biking by celebrating students that walk, bike, and roll to school!
Why should your school take part?
Walk and Bike to School Day is the perfect opportunity to begin conversations about active transportation. If you already have a walking and/or biking community, use this day as a celebration of active transportation, which means getting around using human energy like walking, biking, and rolling!
Ready to plan Walk and Bike to School Day at your school?
Get started by registering your school at www.walkbiketoschool.org. Then follow these three steps:
Start by envisioning what the day will look like at your school. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Establish a remote starting point and map your route: Set one meeting spot for all participants to walk or bike as a large group to school. Consider having a healthy breakfast waiting at school for all students, families, and volunteers that take part!
- Invite special guests: Invite elected officials, community role models, and popular sports figures to attend. They can join students on their walk to school and speak to students upon arrival. Special guests can even be the families of your students!
- Host a walking or biking competition: Work with teachers to have homerooms record how far they walked to get to school. The class who walks or bikes the most gets a prize! (This can be a great map, activity, too!).
- Distribute incentives: Give rewards to participants in the day, like stickers or certificates. Use the templates here or make your own. The Office Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability can provide black and white certificates. Please submit certificate requests to SafeRoutesPhilly@phila.gov by Monday, April 29, 2019.
- Organize a walking school bus or bicycle train: Walking school busses and bicycle trains are structured, supervised journeys to school, where groups of students walk or bike to school with one or more adults. Walking school busses and bicycle trains can look as informal as a few groups of adults taking turns walking students to school, or as large as a structured route with planned meeting points and trained volunteers! (Psst! If your students bike to school, don’t forget to establish a storage space for the day for the bikes. Gyms and empty classrooms work great for storage!)
Don’t be afraid to get creative! Plan a Walk and Bike to School Day that best fits your school community. For more planning tips, visit http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/plan/how-to-plan/first-time-tips/.
Once you’ve decided how Walk and Bike to School Day will look, spread the word! Send invitations to parents, make announcements at school, or write a blurb for your school’s newsletter. Engage students to create posters or flyers to hang at school and in the community. Help spread the word by recruiting volunteers to help.
Work with teachers to review traffic, bicycle, pedestrian safety in the classroom. Before Walk and Bike to School Day, use the Vision Zero Traffic Safety Lesson to talk street safety with students. The Vision Zero Traffic Safety Lesson for elementary school students reviews basic traffic safety elements such as:
- The importance of slowing down,
- Bicycle basics (including helmet fitting, signaling, visibility, and predictability), and
- Keeping safe and visible as a cyclist and pedestrian near trucks.
Consider introducing “Frequent Walker/Biker” cards to challenge students to walk to school for 10 days (consecutive or not) leading up to Walk and Bike to School Day!
Don’t forget to take pictures (or designate someone to do so!). Post your pictures to Twitter and Facebook and tag @PhillyOTIS and #WalkBikeToSchoolPHL.
Have students write thank you notes to special guests, volunteers, and other event helpers. Keep your notes of lessons learned for the following year!
However you choose to celebrate, Walk and Bike to School Day is a great way to highlight the benefits of walking and biking to school. Questions? Contact SafeRoutesPhilly@phila.gov.