In Seattle Public Schools, 83% of students live within the walk-zone (one mile radius) of their school, yet 52% of students are being driven to school. A walk to school is a great way for students to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines, start each day refreshed and ready to learn, and gain a sense of navigational competence in their neighborhood. A Walking School Bus offers a safe and reliable way for students to get to school by foot. Parent or community member volunteers walk along designated routes through the neighborhood, as students join the group along the way.
My senior project focuses on learning how the Seattle Department of Transportation can most effectively support the development of Walking School Buses at elementary schools across Seattle. My methodology looks at how schools differ in their capacity to maintain a Walking School Bus, learns from examples of current walk-to-school programs in Seattle, and considers global examples on how other cities have approached Walking School Bus support. I used these findings to create a list of recommendations for how SDOT can support the growth of Walking School Buses throughout Seattle. This project does not claim the Walking School Bus model to be the only or the best way to support children’s active transportation, but it considers the option extensively to determine best practices, should SDOT chose to pursue this program.