Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Foot Bus to School

I remember walking to school as a kid and then riding my bike in middle school. Aside from being a public health benefit, I also think that kids learn direction and wayfinding this way. It's an important lesson that I think is overlooked much of the time.

I find it interesting that a small town in Italy is looking to cut greenhouse gases by creating foot buses, groups of kids walking to school together. Seems like a great idea to me. From the New York Times:
They set up a piedibus (literally foot-bus in Italian) — a bus route with a driver but no vehicle. Each morning a mix of paid staff members and parental volunteers in fluorescent yellow vests lead lines of walking students along Lecco’s twisting streets to the schools’ gates, Pied Piper-style, stopping here and there as their flock expands.

8 comments:

Rhywun said...

I walked from 1st to 3rd grade--and in what some people call the "inner city" too (really just the now run-down outskirts of Rochester, NY). This was in the late 70s. I can't imagine parents letting their kids do this today. Even though I was bused across town the rest of my school years, I still rode my bike all over the city, on my own. Parents just don't let their kids do that anymore. At least in my hometown, it's because the city is now a crime-ridden cesspool that no sane parent would allow their child to navigate. And everyone else lives in the suburbs.

fasolamatt said...

Page five of this newsletter describes the same program in St Paul Minnesota six years ago (still running).

eleven bee said...

shoot, the national Safe Routes to School program has been promoting walking school buses (and bicycle trains) for years. so we're not so far behind our european counter parts on this front! :)

njh said...

eleven bee:

Except that the Europeans will actually do it, and be successful.

Spokker said...

Back in my day...

I've seen students ride the city bus sometimes. I've been on route 20 in Los Angeles when the bus becomes packed like sardines because a bunch of kids just got out of school. It's really uncomfortable and chaotic.

But it's obvious that the kids, even in big bad Los Angeles, have been allowed to find their way to school with other groups of students and they happened to choose the public bus. I think that stranger danger is a bunch of BS and parents are looking at the past through rose-colored glasses.

david said...

Children attending our local Washington, DC public middle school have walked in groups to and from the school since well before my older daughter started there in 2000. Every morning my girls joined children who had already come a quarter-mile or more to walk half a mile on to the school. When each girl went on to high school, a few children from the previous year's group went to the same school, and they rode the subway there together as freshmen. My younger left the middle school years ago (and soon will leave for college) but as far as I know kids are still walking there in groups.

grvsmth said...

Well, shoot, if that's a piedibus, here in Queens we've got a piedi-tren or piedi-PRT or something. My son and almost all his classmates walk to school with their parents or older siblings every day. We have very few buses, and not too many parents driving their kids. "Walking buses" should be an intermediate step towards this goal.

I always thought that Italy was ahead of us in walkability. Maybe not.

John said...

Yeah, this idea is not unique to Europe. Here's a Walking School Bus Guide.