Using active transportation to get to and from school is good for children and part of a healthy lifestyle. Research shows children who walk or bike to school are better prepared for learning and have improved mental and physical health. Proper supervision, safe environments, hazard awareness, and participating in age-appropriate activities all help reduce the risk of injury to children when they are using active transportation to get to and from school.
Safety research shows young children do not have the mental skills they need to cross the road safely. Children less than 9 years old should have an adult or older responsible child walk to school with them. Parents should make sure their children can demonstrate how to cross the road safely before allowing them to walk to or from school or play unsupervised in their neighbourhood.
Complex skills like balancing the bike, watching for traffic, and paying attention to road signs take training, practice, and time to develop. Children are not ready to cycle alone on the road until they understand road safety rules, know how to signal, and know how to avoid major risks. Children less than 10 years old should only ride to school with supervision and stay on bike paths or sidewalks. Parents should make sure children can demonstrate bike and road safety skills before allowing them to bike to school on their own.
Active and Safe Routes to School is a not for profit organization that provides community and school resources to promote safe active transportation to school. They can provide you with the guidance and tools you will need to assess your neighbourhoods safety.
Current as of: October 2, 2015
Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services