Why Walk, Bike or Roll?

It’s fun! Remember the thrill of riding a bike for the first time or walking or rolling to school on the first day? There’s a feeling of joy and independence—a sense of adventure—that doesn’t fade. Of course, there are many other benefits to walking, biking or rolling to school, too.

Healthier Habits

Active trips to school enable children to incorporate the regular physical activity they need each day while also forming healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Regular physical activity helps children build strong bones, muscles and joints, and it decreases the risk of obesity. In contrast, insufficient physical activity can contribute to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke.

Students pose for a Walk to School Day photo in Odessa, Texas

Odessa, Texas

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents get one hour or more of physical activity each day. Research suggests that physically active kids are more likely to become healthy, physically active adults, underscoring the importance of developing the habit of regular physical activity early.

Cleaner Environment

 When families decide to lace up their sneakers or strap on their helmets to get to school instead of riding in a car, they help reduce the amount of air pollutants emitted by automobiles.

Vehicles emit a variety of air pollutants, resulting in increases in ground-level ozone, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter such as particles of dust, soot, smoke, dirt and liquid droplets. To learn more about the health risks of pollution, visit www.epa.gov/urban-air-toxics.

Promoting Safety

In 2009, 203,000 children ages 15 and younger were injured in motor vehicles crashes; 15,000 of those injured were pedestrians (NHTSA, 2011). Priority must be placed on making it possible for everyone to walk & roll safely, especially in neighborhoods and school zones.

To reduce the risk of injury:

Some of the best ways to increase the safety of a child’s walking or rolling trip to school are to:

A note about personal security:

Parents and other adults sometimes worry about children encountering bullies or strangers on the way to or from school. Parents may fear kidnapping or assault. While the actual occurrences are extremely rare, it’s important to deal with both perceptions and documented problems and to create a plan that will minimize risk. Asking parents to walk with children to school is one way to address this concern. Some communities start walking school buses or bicycle trains as a way to have an adult presence on the street.

Community Benefits

Students and community leaders in Providence, Rhode Island, post for a photo during Walk to School Day.

Providence, RI

The whole community benefits from efforts to enable and encourage more children to walk, bike or roll to school safely. Benefits include: