What is a ‘walking bus’?
Are you fed up with your children fighting in the back of the car on the way to school, or just want to give them some fresh air before their day ahead? If so, a ‘walking bus’ may work for you. It consists of a group of children walking to school together under the supervision of one or more adults, allowing you to walk within your local community and get your children to school in a safe and active way.
Why should you start a walking bus?
A walking bus is a fantastic way to exercise, have fun and reduce the likelihood of childhood obesity in the younger generation. A recent survey by Confused.com has found that 15 per cent of people have seen a child injured by a car outside the school gates, and we want to help prevent this by reducing school gate congestion. Walking also adds health benefits, as it reduces the risk of chronic illnesses and keeps you fit and active.
Who will coordinate?
Before starting your own bus you need to recruit local volunteers and then decide who will be your bus coordinator. This person will be in charge of organising the rota and will also inform the school that the walking bus travels to. It is also helpful to contact your local road safety officer who can help you with any questions you may have.
Is the right support available?
A quick and easy way to see how much support the walking bus will have within your local community is by speaking to parents and children, contacting your school head teacher or asking the locals to fill out a questionnaire for you.
Miss, which way do we go?
When deciding your walking bus route, you should think about the number of volunteers likely to help out, the time that the school begins and how far away pupils live.
Look out for the risks
Once you know your bus route, make sure that a risk assessment is carried out so that all the passengers on board the walking bus can be as safe as possible. Walk the route yourself to check that all pathways are wide enough, there are no dangers such as broken glass, low tree branches or uneven walkways, and that there are pedestrian crossings where appropriate. Local Authorities can also work with you to ensure all assessments are done and that volunteers are CRB checked.
All eyes on the walking bus!
All children onboard the walking bus must be kept safe which means there has to be a minimum number of adults on board the walking bus at all times.
To find out the recommended number of required adults per child, please consult your local authority’s insurance guidelines.
We need you!
One way to get as many volunteers for your walking bus as possible is by organising a question and answer session at your local community centre to spread all the great benefits of a walking bus.
Just keep walking, walking, walking
A way to maintain the success of your walking bus is to communicate with the bus volunteers, your local school and other parents through newsletters, emails or maybe even a Facebook group!
It is very important that all volunteers have up-to-date medical information of the children travelling on the walking bus, although they must make sure they do not administer any medicine themselves.
Whilst members of the walking bus need to see where they are going, other pedestrians need to see them too! That’s why making sure walking bus passengers wear high visibility waistcoats is very important. We recommend at least one third of walking bus passengers wear these.
The walking bus is all about walking, which means that no children are allowed to use scooters, rollerblades, or walk dogs.
Walking to school is not only a great way to exercise; it’s a great way to learn more about your community and your classmates. Listening to music will not only stop this from happening but also reduce your safety which means that personal music devices should not be allowed on walking bus journeys.
Last but by no means least, have fun!