How to Plan a Walk and Bike to School Event
Once you have decided on the type of walk and bike event you would like to hold (bike train, bike rodeo, walking school bus or parade, etc.), planning the event takes a little time and coordination.
Completing a planning document such as a Safe Routes School Travel Plan is recommended for any community interested in implementing a walk or bike to school event or any SRTS program such as a walking school bus or parade. The main goal of the travel plan is to create safer routes for walking and bicycling by identifying problem areas and proposing solutions.
To plan a walk or bike to school event, here is a list of steps with details and sample documents to get one going in your community:
Select one person from each list to be your partners and begin planning your event (however, you can and will want bring others in later as you move ahead with the planning and implementation of your event):
School: Board of Education, School Superintendent, Principal, Teacher, Nurse
Municipality: Mayor or Administrator, City Council Member, Police, Health Department
Community: Parent(s), Advocacy Group(s), Community Group(s), Local Business(es)
- Decide on the Type of Event - make sure it is compatible with your community and available resources. If your school has a Travel Plan, use it as a guide to plan your event.
- Pick a date – decide when to hold your Walk or Bike to School Day. Begin planning 4-5 months prior to event date. Will it be during International Walk to School Month? Will it be for one day? A whole week? every week? Check for scheduling conflicts and develop a schedule.
- Form a Team – determine what types of and how many volunteers will be needed. For example, will you need crossing guards? Click Build your Safe Routes Team for more information on recruiting volunteers to help with your walk and bike to school event.
- Reach out to local businesses to see if they would be interested in sponsoring the event or supplying food/small rewards to the participants at the end of their walk. Here are some documents that can help with recruiting partners and sponsors:
Sample Event Partner Sponsor Letter (MS Word)
Sample Partner Donation Letter (MS Word)
- Determine whether or not you want to hold other activities during your event or leading up to it.
- Identify responsibilities (who does what) and get commitments to participate.
- Plan for contingencies, such as inclement weather. Some schools provide promotional ponchos for rainy walks; others move their celebrations into the gym; other events occur rain or shine.
- Contact your SRTS Regional Coordinator for assistance. There are also organizations that can help you with your walk and bike to school event such as the NJ Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center. Click SRTS Advisory Groups for a list of contacts that may offer advice with your event.
- Pick a theme for your event – pedestrian safety, physical activity, the environment, etc.
- Inform and invite the media to the event. Use the Sample Media Advisory Template (MS Word) which can be tailored to your walk and bike event.
- Invite local officials/celebrities to be part of your event. Ask your municipal government and/or Board of Education to pass a Sample Model Resolution of Support–Municipality and BOE (MS Word) or Sample Proclamation (MS Word) to show support of your walk and bike to school event(s).
- Distribute promotional material and safety information to potential participants.
- Appoint someone as a leader to make “on the spot” decisions.
- Don’t worry about the weather — walking in the rain can be fun!
- Be flexible, have fun and afterwards, celebrate!
- Record your successes and note any improvements or adjustments that could be made.
- Take lots of photos!
- Start planning another walk and bike event! Here are some ideas to create a Month of Walking Activities (PDF).
The following are suggestions for incentives that might be offered to increase participation in walk and bike to school events. Prizes should be fun, not elaborate or expensive.
- Golden Sneakers – A “golden sneaker” award is a lot like ice hockey’s Stanley Cup. Paint some sneakers gold to make a trophy and reward a student or class for their walking efforts. The trophy can be passed on to new winners of walking events.
- Small Tokens – Greet students and provide stickers or certificates for walking to school.
- Frequent Walker Cards – Distribute cards that can be punched when students walk or bike to school. When the card is full, congratulate the student with a prize and award a new card.
- Walk/Bike Across America – Students calculate the distance traveled by the entire class within a given time period and plot it on a map. Classes with the longest distance traveled are rewarded.
- School Breakfast – Host a healthy breakfast when children arrive on a walk to school day.
- Partner with local bicycle stores – Invite local bicycle stores to your event and have them demonstrate safe riding skills to the students.
- Local Police – Invite local police enforcement to promote safety on the streets and sidewalks.
- Other ideas – here are some more Ideas to Make Walk and Bike Events Memorable (PDF).
Print out a Walk and Bike Event Check List (PDF) to help with planning!!