Valuable teaching often happens in informal settings including in after-school programs, community education classes, summer camps, and at home.
Many activities are included in the Walk! Bike! Fun! Ambassadors Guide, which prepares adults to implement activities that reinforce concepts and objectives of the complete WBF curriculum being taught in schools as well as a Safe Routes to School plan being implemented in the community.
WBF Ambassador activities can be done in conjunction with an existing WBF program or as standalone efforts.
The WBF Ambassador Guide contains background information on the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, including external references, which provide important context for these supporting activities. We believe – and the research indicates – that the effects of these efforts are maximized when combined as part of a comprehensive Safe Routes to School program that includes the “Six Es” approach: Evaluation, Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Engagement, and Equity.
Walk!Bike!Fun! Ambassador Training 101*
Ambassador Training 101 outlines and explains all of the necessary pedestrian and bicycle skill development necessary for all of the proceeding sections, including.
- Pedestrian Skill Development
- Bicycle Skill Development
- Bicycle Safety Principles and Rules of the Road for Adults
- Rules of the Road
- Bicycle Handling Skills
- Group Riding Strategies
*This information should be reviewed by all Walk! Bike!Fun! Ambassadors as the core foundation needed to do all programs and activities.
Walk!Bike!Fun! Presentation Essentials
The purpose of this section is to identify the most essential concepts of the WBF curriculum, and present this in a condensed format to a youth audience in a group setting. Because children learn most effectively when concepts are reinforced with practical application, it is *strongly recommended* that the information in this section be reinforced with some of the suggested hands-on activities in The WBF Ambassador’s Guide.
Learning basic pedestrian safety may help prevent injuries and prepare children for a lifetime of safe walking. The Walk! Fun! content is most appropriate for a younger audience (recommended for ages 4-8). In Walk! Fun! Essentials, children learn how to walk safely near traffic, cross the street at a crosswalk and around visual barriers, and how to safely cross the street at an intersection using crossing signals and traffic signs. *Children of this age should always be under adult supervision while they are learning and practicing application of this information.
Bike! Fun! Essentials consists of many activities where children are learning and practicing safe bicycle handling skills as well as traffic laws that make their biking experience more rewarding and enjoyable. The Bike! Fun! education lessons are intended for children with the skills, experience, and permission to travel without adult supervision (recommended for ages 9-14).
Walking School Bus
A “walking school bus” is an activity for organizing students who arrive to school by walking, with basic education and adult supervision.
Today, fewer children are walking and bicycling to school, and more children are at risk of becoming overweight and obese than children 30 years ago (Koplan, Liverman, & Kraak, 2005; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d.). Encouraging a healthy lifestyle requires creative solutions that are safe and fun. Implementing a walking school bus can be both.
For many parents, safety concerns are one of the primary reasons they are reluctant to allow their children to walk to school (Martin & Carlson, 2005). Providing adult supervision may help reduce those worries and meet the needs of families who live within walking or bicycling distance of school.
Bus Stop and Walk / Remote Drop-off Activity
A remote drop-off activity is an organized walking activity that typically happens at the beginning of a school day and includes all students regardless of how they arrive.
This activity can be organized as a one-time special celebration (e.g. to coincide with International Walk to School Day), or can be a more-regularly practiced activity.
Many families get the idea that active transportation is a good thing for many reasons:
- It’s fun!
- It’s great physical activity.
- Students who arriving by bike are alert and ready to learn.
- It instills safe bicycling skills.
A bike train is a program for organizing students who arrive to school by bicycle, with basic education and adult supervision. Bike trains enable students to get to school while enjoying the outdoors and the company of other bicyclists.
Best suited for children in upper elementary and middle school grades, bike trains are led by adults—one at the front and one at the rear of the train—that accompany students as they bike to and from school. From one or two neighbors biking together to a route with multiple “stations” where more riders join in, bike trains can be a great way to instill a love of bicycling while developing life-long safety skills.
Walk! Bike! Fun! Rodeo!
A Walk! Bike! Fun! Rodeo is a skill-building obstacle course developed for the purpose of teaching children basic bicycle riding skills like stopping, balancing, signaling, and turning. These events provide an opportunity for bicyclists to practice and develop effective cycling skills and avoid typical crashes. A rodeo serves to:
- Educate: Increase knowledge about traffic safety, walking, and bicycling.
- Train: Transfer the knowledge to the practice of skills and decision-making while walking or riding a bicycle.
- Motivate: Energize and excite participants to want to learn more and to engage in walking and bicycling.
The Ambassador Guide provides an outline for planning and conducting an effective community rodeo event. It can be used by teachers, parents, community educators, youth-serving organizations, or others with an interest in promoting safe bicycle riding and walking skills.
Mapping for Bicycling & Walking
User friendly maps can encourage students to actively commute to and from school and be a valuable tool for families. A well-designed map can encourage more walking and biking by communicating:
- Existing pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure
- Potential pedestrian and bicycling routes
- Walking school bus and bicycle train routes
- Arrival and dismissal procedures
*It is essential to test potential routes before putting them on your map. Walk or bike the routes as appropriate, first by yourself and then with a student of average age and ability. Doing so will give you a better sense of how long the routes take, how suitable they are for the target age group, and whether any adjustments are needed. The Guide focuses on building maps with Google My Maps and Microsoft Powerpoint, since these tools are relatively simple and widely available.