The Walking Bus – Recess Before School

September 12, 2008 at 2:12 pm Leave a comment


Until last spring, Nia Parker and the other kids in her neighborhood who attend West Boulevard Elementary in Columbia, Mo., commuted to school on Bus 59. But as fuel costs have risen (diesel is up 34% in the past 2 years), the Columbia school district has needed to find a way to cut its transportation costs. So the school’s busing company redrew its route map, eliminating Nia’s bus altogether. Instead, Nia and her neighbors travel the half mile to school via a “walking school bus”—a group of kids, supervised by an adult or two, who make the trek together. “It’s healthier for them to walk,” says Melissa Clark, Nia’s mom, who approves of the change.

Many parents are delighted to see their kids walking to school, partly because many did so themselves: in 1969, according to the National Household Travel Survey, nearly half of schoolkids walked or biked to school, compared with only 16 percent in 2001. Modern parents have been leery of letting kids walk to school for fear of traffic, crime or simple bullying, but with organized adult supervision, those concerns have diminished. “Parents are buying into it more and more,” says Susan Haynes, principal at Van Derveer Elementary in Somerville, N.J., which cut all its home-to-school transportation. Some kids like this change, too. “It’s like recess before school,” says Price Phillips, 9, who walks to school in Columbia, Mo., this year.


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