The “Walking Bus” concept was introduced as a solution to the vicious school traffic cycle whereby parents drive their children to school because it is too dangerous for them to walk, increasing traffic, and forcing other parents to drive because it is now deemed too dangerous for their children to walk. The Walking School Bus is a group of children who walk to school together. Parents, older students, or volunteers agree to be “walking leaders” and the group walks to school together, similar to a “carpool”. Each walking bus has an adult “driver” in the front and at the rear. The group typically follows a specific route and schedule, which has designated “bus stops” that pick up students along the way.
In Rome, the City Council (the Councillor for the Promotional Politics for the Family and the Childhood) worked with school authorities and parents, local police, district representatives, road safety officers and city police to plan and implement the walking school bus. In 2005/2006, more than 50 schools (1300 children and 100 “bus” lines) were involved. In 2006/2007, the programme was extended to all school districts in the city.
The walking school is therefore a part of a wider awareness raising process for Rome citizens whose aim is to spread a new culture of sustainable mobility, which must give priority to the rights of children and therefore indirectly to all pedestrians.
Results and impact
The programme gives children the opportunity to be active on a daily basis, to socialize with other children and to learn about road safety. It also improves the quality of the urban environment around schools by limiting car traffic and pollution due to excessive use of cars.
The walking school bus is now a feature in many cities and is seen as part of the broad international movement to encourage active and safe routes to school.
Type of activity
Programmes promoting activity
Territorial level: Local
Organizer: City Council of Rome
Source: www.scuolamafalda.it/scuola/scuolabus_a_piedi.htm | Edwards, P. and Tsouros, A. (2006) Promoting physical activity and active living in urban environments.