At a Glance

Encouragement activities are closely related to the school's educational strategies around Safe Routes. They help children and adults practice the walking and biking behaviors they have learned, generate interest, build community and sustain momentum by demonstrating success.

Encouragement Activities

Encouragement activities in their most basic form get kids excited about biking, walking, carpooling, and the use of transit. Some example basic encouragement program structures include:

  • Park and Walk Programs
  • Walking School Buses and Bicycle Trains
    • Walking School Buses and Bicycle Trains consist of groups of students accompanied by adults that walk or bicycle a pre-planned route to school.  Routes can originate from the point that makes the most sense and may operate daily, weekly or monthly. Often, they begin as ways to address parents' concerns about traffic and personal safety while providing a chance for parents and children to socialize. Schools have found the Buses and Trains to be effective ways of making walking and biking to school safe, convenient and fun.

      Walking School Buses and Bicycle Trains can be loosely structured or highly organized. The Buses or Trains can be as simple as neighborhood families deciding to walk or bicycle together or they can be part of a more organized program. Formal programs may include a coordinator who recruits volunteers to lead buses and trains, schedules, route maps, and vests for volunteers. While requiring more effort, these organized efforts involve more children and adults and thus provide greater benefits.

      Interested in getting a Walking School Bus Program going? Included below are a few resources to get you started:

      National Safe Routes to School Training Modules 

      Map-a-Route (online tool for creating your own route maps)

  • Park and Walk Programs

    Park and Walk programs are designed to have parents drive their children to a designated meeting place in the vicinity of the school, at which they leave the car and walk the remaining distance. These programs help families that live too far to walk or bike to school, or that do not have a safe route from home to school, to reduce traffic congestion at the school and to provide their children with the opportunity to walk with friends on a regular basis. Some schools require parents to walk with their children to school while others have designated adult volunteers to walk groups of children from the parking area to school, thus helping to develop a sense of community among the adults and giving children a feeling of safety.

    Schools may develop one or more maps that identify safe and convenient parking places from which there are safe walking routes to the camp.

  • Volunteer Crossing Guard Programs

    Parent or local volunteers, aid families with crossing intersections near the school campus.

  • Public Transit

    Students who live too far from school to bike and walk may utilize public transit as a means of getting to a from school. SamTrans, the local bus service, includes stops at many San Mateo County Schools.


Encouragement Events

Event Ideas can include, but are certainly not limited to, Weekly/Monthly Events, Themed Events such as Umbrella Walks in the Winter, Golden Sneaker Contests, Secret Bike Brigades, Walk Across California/America Challenges, and Bike Brigades. Events can be held district wide, school wide, on an individual classroom basis, and even on a student by student basis.

Event Planning Resources

San Mateo Countywide Encouragement Events


Weekly/Monthly Events

Schools that have had success with special events often expand them into regular activities that occur on a regular basis, such as "Wednesday Walk to School" or "Walk and Roll (i.e., Bike) Day."

Walking school buses, bicycle trains, and park and walk activities are all ongoing encouragement activities.

These weekly and monthly events help to institutionalize positive behaviors and multiply the benefits of the activities, enabling walking and biking to become the preferred mode of travel from home to school.