Let’s Talk Walking School Buses

As the temperatures begin to warm up and as all the snow begins to melt, it is safe to say that spring is starting to, well, SPRING. And here at the Iowa Safe Routes Partnership, that lovely feeling of ‘spring is in the air’ brings with it the excitement of Walking School Buses (WSB). And we can hardly contain our delight for WSB routes to soon be back up and running (…er, walking)!

Although some WSBs do trek to and from school throughout the whole school year, many operate on a fall/spring schedule and take the winter off. Especially for WSBs that are just starting out, this can be a more manageable and appealing approach for volunteers and families. And the way we see it, there is no wrong option for a WSB, because any WSB is better than no WSB!

WSBs operate in all sorts of ways, shapes, and sizes. Some walk one time a week for just a month, others go daily all-school year-round. Some have designated pick-up points, others just pick up whichever kids are waiting outside. Some have just a couple of kids, others have 10+. Some have the same volunteer, others have many volunteers. The bottom line, it doesn’t matter how a WSB works. It just matters that it works. Period. 

Kids having fun on a walking school bus

Time and again, we hear from parents, volunteers, and kids alike how rewarding the WSB is to them. Perhaps in different ways, but they are all ways that matter. And matter a lot. Maybe it’s helping a parent get out the door to work a little quicker. Or providing them reassurance that their student is getting regular physical activity. Maybe it’s helping a volunteer give back to their community in an active way. Or giving them a purpose to get out of bed in the morning. Maybe it’s helping provide a student extra time to talk about Pokémon cards with a friend. Or teaching them about independence, responsibility, personal safety, and community awareness. The benefits for those involved in a WSB are truly endless.

As the ground continues to thaw and as the robins return, be on the lookout for WSBs popping up around you. And if you don’t see any, perhaps this is the spring to bring one to life in your neighborhood?

To learn more about WSB possibilities, reach out to the Iowa Safe Routes Partnership:

  • In Northeast Iowa- April Bril with Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission at abril@uerpc.org 
  • In the Cedar Valley area- Brenda Vavroch with Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments at bvavroch@inrcog.org 
  • In others areas of the state- Jared Morford with the Iowa Bicycle Coalition at jared@iowabike.org