A Few October Highlights

Wow, I can’t believe November is nearly over and we’re already into the holiday season. We’ve been meaning to recap a few of the highlights from this past October, when many Seattle schools focused their efforts on IWalk and other walk to school programs.

While the recap is a little tardy, the events themselves were timely, and amounted to a hugely successful walk to school month at a number of local schools. The stories below just scratch the surface, as many schools hosted events. But hopefully these examples can provide some ideas for other schools to consider.

Here are a few highlights:

At West Woodland Elementary, an emphasis on “walking and wheeling” during October involved kids in all forms of sustainable commuting. Over the course of the month, 81% of West Woodland kids walked or wheeled to school at least once, up significantly from last year’s 62%.

According to organizers, this might have been due to the good weather early on, or it might have been due to the West Woodland fairies who surprised the kids with rewards. (Yes, it turns out that bike and walking fairies are beginning to multiply around the city… Bryant and Laurelhurst and now West Woodland too!)

A number of West Woodland parents donned fairy wings, sequined skirts, or other fun accessories and took turns “catching” kids walking or biking to and from school, rewarding them with stickers and Hershey’s kisses for their efforts. There was quite a buzz around school about the fairies and the parents had fun doing it, too.  Every walker received a small goody bag, and West Woodland held a bike blender smoothie party for the two classes with top participation. The top five individual walkers also received headlamps donated by Second Ascent.

Bagley walkers

At Bagley Elementary, the school’s “Let’s Move” program got up and running for the school year in October. Like West Woodland, this program involves both walking  and biking to school, including organized groups along several walking school bus routes. As Bagley works to promote active transportation choices, they also host school walks and runs for the kids on the Bagley track in the mornings as well. Bagley plans to run its Let’s Move program for the rest of the year.

Salmon Bay K-8 pulled together its first ever Walk to School day at the end of October this year. It was a huge success! The walk to school day involved five walking school buses and several of them had twenty students and 5-10 adults!  Several teachers & staff joined the buses as well, and Salmon Bay’s event even made the local news!

Salmon Bay had about 100 student walkers overall.  Organizers report that participation and encouragement by a new principal and assistant principal this year who are both dedicated to walking and biking to school helped tremendously. This is yet another reminder of how a supportive administration can really help these programs take off.

Bryant’s walking school buses were a huge success as well, with over 100 kids participating in one or more of the Friday morning buses. Bryant families gathered at four stations, each a few blocks from school, and from there walked to school en masse. One smaller group set up timed stops along about a one-mile route, ultimately joining up at the north station for the final walk to school. It was great fun!

On the final Friday, Bryant’s north walking bus added kid instruments (recorders, drums, even pots and pans) to enhance the parade. On that final Friday, the “Walking Wizard” paid a visit as well, to reward kids who walked.

And Laurelhurst had a fantastic month too, with a sequence of events that kicked off the month and provided support along the way, with a final wrap-up event as well. This all added up to huge participation, with the entire school joining a kick-off assembly and an “all-school walk” early in the month, and then nearly half of the students following through with sustainable commuting and tracking their trips over the course of the month.

Obviously we’re deeper into the rainy and dark season in Seattle now, but we’ve seen some sunny and dry periods like the first part of this week as well. Hopefully we’ll continue to see a few glimpses of sun over the course of the winter, along with a few opportunities to encourage families to break out their rain gear to walk or bike to school.

Hopefully these schools and others can build on the momentum of October and support families to explore getting to school under their own power over the course of the winter.

And for school organizers, the next few months are a perfect time to lay the groundwork for walk and bike to school programs for the coming spring!

Walk-to-school traffic jam!

It’s Walktober!

International Walk to School Month begins today! Spread the word at your school and let’s get Seattle kids walking.

Bagley Elementary had three walking school buses last year and are adding some more for 2012-13.

At West Woodland, they’ve had a big walking school bus going for years! They’ve established some great guidelines to make sure everyone is safe and accounted for, and has fun as well.

Even at bike-crazy Bryant Elementary, walking school buses are all the rage this fall! Bryant has established four stations — each a few blocks from school — and parents are hosting meet-ups every Friday, and then families are walking to school en masse.

At Dearborn Elementary, in past years they’ve even had the principal and teachers lead their walking school buses!

If you want more info or some examples from these schools, let us know and we’ll set you up!

The Seattle School District passed a new transportation policy last year that requires each elementary and K-8 principal to establish at least one walking school bus by the 2013-14 school year. Let’s hold them to it, but also show them how it’s done by getting out and walking this fall.

Walking school buses can be simple or complex. In the old days, we just walked to school, right? But often we picked up friends along the way because that made it more fun. In its essence a walking school bus is no more than that: just a fun and healthy way for a group to get to school together. It can have timed routes with multiple stops, or just be a simple meet-up location for several families to leave together. Or a “bus” can be informal, with friends and neighbors just electing to walk to school together.

It’s never too late to rally some friends to walk or bike, or even to organize a small event. Feet First has made some nice template posters available that can easily be adapted, and posted at your school.

Let’s get Seattle school kids walking now! What are you doing at your school to help build this kid-powered movement?

Even Bryant’s walking. Well, and biking too!

Bryant Walking School Buses

CALLING ALL BRYANT FAMILIES:

Bryant Elementary’s Walking School Buses start this coming Friday!

We’ll be gathering at four meet-up points (see map below):

30th Ave NE and NE 60th St

33rd Ave Ne and NE 55th St

32nd Ave NE and NE 62nd St

36th Ave NE and NE 60th St

The schedule is pretty simple:

8:50 am Gather at one of the 4 meeting points. Meet other Bryant parents and kids. Enjoy TREATS!

9:05 am Start walking (or biking, scootering, roller skating, etc.) to school along the routes outlined on the map.

9:15 am Arrive to Bryant in an awesome displayof kid-powered transport!

We’ll be doing walking school buses with treats and festivities each  Friday in October:

Oct. 5, 19, and 26

(no school on Oct.12)

Meet up at 8:50 a.m. at any of the red stars.

See the link below to download or print the Walking School Bus poster. Hope you can join us!

Bryant Elementary Walking School Bus Poster

Another awesome info sharing session

Last week’s walk.bike.schools meeting was awesome! It was great to hear ideas from Ballard and throughout Seattle to get more kids walking and biking.

We heard from Loyal Heights Elementary about their bike to school program, along with some of their ideas for the coming year. These include creating more targeted education on road skills for student bikers, a possible after school bike club, perhaps some group rides on the proposed Ballard Greenway, and a bike swap.

Feet First described how October’s IWalk works, with lots of specific examples of events, promotional materials, etc., that other schools have used. Did you know that October is International Walk to School Month, and Oct. 3 is International Walk to School Day? A great time to organize a walk  event, or just to walk to school yourself! (And not to worry, biking or really any kid-powered commuting counts.)

The IWalk concept is very flexible: it’s an umbrella that supports walk-to-school organizers in putting on events for a day, all month, or anything in between.

We also heard an inspiring story from Dearborn Park Elementary, where teachers and even the principal have led walking school buses. Very cool!

The meeting also included a roundtable discussion where folks could share what they are working on and  ideas for collaboration. Not surprisingly, lots of great ideas emerged:

  • A possible multi-school bike festival, perhaps with a bike swap, fun events Fiets of Parenthood style, and a sign-up table for various schools’ bike to school programs.
  • Partnering with the Undriver Licensing project, which could encourage middle or high school students to further commit to walking and biking by getting their Undriver License!
  • Tieing into the Washington High School Cycling League. Ballard High is a member, and a similar league may be launched at the MS level
  • Connecting with the Seattle Public Library, especially the neighborhood branches

Folks were clear they want to continue to share information and build a citywide coalition of school programs. To that end we agreed to get together again in early November to debrief on October events, and to collaborate between now and then through this blog and the walk.bike.schools google group.
There was particular interest in getting more information and examples for walking school buses and bike trains, so look for more info here soon.

Our meeting got some nice press coverage as well; check it out!

Thanks to all who could join us, and to Loyal Heights for hosting!

Let’s load up the bike racks…
and wear out some sneakers too!

West Woodland — Walking to School and Biking Too!

We’re looking forward to learning more about the walk and bike to school programs at West Woodland Elementary School.

West Woodland is known for its walking school buses, and has been cited by both Feet First and even the Seattle Times as having a great walk to school program. Nicole Brodeur of the Times wrote a nice article on the West Woodland walking school bus back in 2010, calling it a “well-oiled machine of chattering kids and banging backpacks”:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nicolebrodeur/2013135353_nicole12m.html

But the school has a bike to school program as well, complete with an annual bike rodeo and other fun events.

In fact, this year’s bike rodeo is scheduled for May 6th. We can’t wait to hear how it goes.

Sounds like a couple folks from West Woodland will join us on April 12 at the city-wide meet-up. Hopefully they’ll share some of their tips and techniques for getting kids walking and biking. Can’t wait to learn more about what they’ve been doing to promote kid-powered commuting!

Bagley’s Walking School Bus

Bagley Elementary School received some awesome recognition of their walking school bus program from the Seattle School District recently.

Bagley’s Walking School Bus

34% of the students walking to school in January; that’s impressive!

The Bagley folks clearly have a great program, and we’re looking forward to hearing some ideas from them. Hopefully they will be able to join us at the upcoming city-wide walk and bike to school program get together on April 12 (this Thursday) at Bryant Elementary.

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