Active Transportation

How students, teachers, and other members of the community get to and from school is a key component of how sustainable your school is. Through education and design, it is possible to encourage more active transportation – and a healthier, happier school community!

Creating a school community with a focus on active transportation requires a two-pronged approach: education and outreach, as well as good design. Facilitating active transportation is an important component of effective school ground design. The placement and number of bicycle racks, safe crossings, where the main entrance to the school is located – all of these elements can influence the degree to which active transportation is a part of school life in your community.


Bicycle racks at Norma Rose Point Elementary School, Vancouver (Image: Heather Scott)

Physical inactivity can have a negative impact on concentration and learning ability. Getting exercise in the morning on the way to school may help to make children better students. In general, students that live within 2 kilometres of the school are good candidates for active transportation. Whether biking, hiking, running, walking, or using another form of active transport such as a wheelchair – students will be able to get their heart rates up, get some fresh air, and arrive at school feeling awake and ready to learn. Not only does active transportation potentially lead to better classroom learning, but it also contributes to sustainable practices within the school community.

For parents concerned about safety, a walking school bus is an excellent option. What is a walking school bus? Simply a group of students led by two adults (one in the front, one bringing up the back) that follows a prescribed daily walking route to school. It is also possible to organize a group of students who bike together to school with supervision. However you choose to incorporate active transportation into your school community, make sure that you consider how the design of your new outdoor play and learning spaces can help to support and enhance these initiatives.