Riding, rolling, running, skipping, walking - all across Canada, spring is in the air, and for many kids, getting to school just got a whole lot more fun!
Active transportation (aka foot powered) is the most environmentally friendly way to get to school - zero carbon emissions, better air quality in communities, and a dose of daily exercise. Research has shown that kids who ride or walk to school arrive feeling more alert, and are more likely to get their recommended daily exercise.
As parents, you can promote active transportation in a number of ways.
Encourage your school to invest in active transportation. What are the barriers for kids that want to walk or ride to school? Are there safe walking and cycling routes? Are there enough bike racks? If not, talk to your board and superintendent. Some problems are relatively easy to resolve; others, like rerouting streets, might take longer, and involved working with the municipality.
Most provinces have dedicated active transportation for schools programs to help with resources - try this for Ontario ,or this for BC. Some school districts, like Vancouver, also have official walking school buses or parents can create their own.
Here are tips from a parent on starting a 'bike bus'. You can also encourage your school to join national or provincial bike week events (examples from BC, Ontario and Alberta) that encourage kids to log their rides, enter prize draws, etc. There are also some funding opportunities for schools and PACs to promote active transportation - and we can help you find more.
'School Streets' is a world-wide initiative to set up car-free zones around schools at drop-off and pick up times. There have been a number of successful trials in Canada, including in BC and Ontario. For detailed guidance on the benefits and how to get started, see this document from the City of Victoria and CRD, or this one for Ontario specific info.
Need more ideas? See this excellent document put together by the City of Toronto, or these extensive resources by Heal.ca, including science based evidence on the benefits of walking/riding to school, teaching resources, a travel planner and more.
Making active transportation options accessible for everyone is a really important way to reduce emissions. If you are interested in pursuing this at your school, please get in touch - [email protected] - so we can offer support and help with resources.