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History

Organized by the Partnership for a Walkable America, Walk to School Day in the USA began in 1997 as a one-day event aimed at building awareness for the need for walkable communities.  In 2000, the event became international when the UK and Canada (both of which had already been promoting walking to school) and the USA joined together for the first International Walk to School Day. Growing interest in participation all over the world led the International Walk to School Committee to shifts its promotion to International Walk to School Month for the entire month of October.

In the USA and Canada, International Walk to School Day galvanizes visibility for walking and bicycling to school. Over time, this event has been part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school and a celebration – with record breaking participation - each October. Today, thousands of schools across America and in more than 40 countries worldwide celebrate walking to school every October.

The success of Walk to School Day, as well as continued interest in bicycling to school, created a desire for a national event focused on bicycling to school. This goal became reality in 2012, when the first National Bike to School Day took place on May 9, in coordination with the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Month.

Although Walk to School Day is focused more on walking and Bike to School Day is focused more on bicycling, both days welcome and encourage all forms of active transportation to school.

There are many reasons to celebrate—safer and more accessible streets , healthier habits, and cleaner air to name just a few. Join in! Register your event.

Quick Facts and Figures: The History of Walk to School Day and Bike to School Day

  • The Partnership for a Walkable America sponsored the first National Walk Our Children to School Day in Chicago in 1997, modeled after the United Kingdom’s walk to school events, and  communities around the United States have been celebrating Walk to School Day ever since.
  • The event was established as “International” in 2000, when Canada and the U.K. joined with the U.S. to celebrate. Around the globe, International Walk to School Month brings together more than 40 countries in recognition of the common interest in walking to school.
  • In August 2005, federal legislation established a National Safe Routes to School Program that provided $612 million towards Safe Routes to School from 2005 to 2010. In July 2012, transportation legislation, MAP-21, was enacted that no longer provides dedicated funding for SRTS but instead places SRTS under a program called the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). However, many states still have dedicated SRTS funds.
  • More than 14,800 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia have been awarded federal funds for Safe Routes to School activities.
  • More than half of Walk to School events are part of ongoing activities to promote walking and bicycling throughout the year.
  • In 2006, world-wide interest led the International Walk to School Committee to establish International Walk to School Month – countries choose a day, week or use the entire month of October to promote walking to school.
  • Participation in Walk to School Day 2013 reached a record high, with more than 4,400 events registered from all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Many more communities held events but did not register.
  • The first-ever National Bike to School Day took place on May 9, 2012, as part of National Bike Month. 950 local events in 49 states across the U.S. encouraged children to safely bicycle or walk to school. Many communities and schools have been holding spring walk and bicycle to school events for years. National Bike to School Day provides an opportunity for schools across the country to join together and to build on the energy of National Bike Month. In 2013, more than 1,700 schools participated in National Bike to School Day on May 8.

More information on Walk to School Day and Walk to School Programs
Booklet – "Walk to School Initiatives: Take Steps Toward a Better Way"