A Safe and Healthy Trip To and From School

Young people in your family and community may have already begun the school year, but it’s never too late for any of us to learn important and lifesaving lessons about staying safe when walking and biking. For more than 20 years, International Walk and Bike to School Day has been about helping young people learn how to stay safe as they travel to and from school.

In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians and 840 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes. They accounted for more than 18 percent of all fatalities on our roads. Of those pedestrians and bicyclists killed, 12 percent were 19 years old or younger. People out walking, running and riding bikes obviously don’t benefit from the protections modern vehicles provide. We all need to do more to look out for the safety of those outside of vehicles, particularly young people.

International Walk and Bike to School Day will be held on October 10th this year. It’s a great opportunity to discuss these safe walking and bicycling tips with the young people in your family.

Walking

Walking to school is great exercise, but children under 10 years old should be accompanied by an adult or with someone who will make sure they walk safely. Always:

  • Watch the road, not your phone.
  • Walk on the sidewalk or, if there is none, walk facing traffic.
  • When crossing the street, cross at a corner or marked crosswalk.
  • Stop and look left-right-left for vehicles, motorcycles, and bicyclists. Wait to cross after traffic has passed.
  • Be sure to push the pedestrian button and wait for pedestrian crossing signals, if available.

And never play, push, or shove others when you walk around traffic.

Biking

Biking is a fun, healthy way to get to and from school, too. Always:

  • Wear a properly fitted helmet and be sure to buckle the chin strap.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic and stop at all stop signs and signals.
  • Use routes that offer bike lanes or that have less traffic and lower speeds.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic, be careful of pedestrians, and use caution when crossing streets. Only ride on the sidewalk when necessary, unless prohibited.

And never use headphones or cell phones while riding.

Encouraging safer choices among pedestrians and bicyclists—as well as the drivers who are legally required to share the road with them—is essential to reducing deaths and injuries on our roads and protecting young people on their way to school. Check with your school to see if it’s planning an event around Walk and Bike to School Day. If they’re not, take the extra step of helping to lead an event in the future.

At a minimum, discuss these road safety tips with the student in your family, and help them plan the safest route for walking and biking to and from school (PDF, 238KB). It could encourage healthy habits that last a lifetime—but only if we help young people walk and bike safely today.