Bike & Walk to School

Remember walking or biking to school when you were a kid? Do you remember the proud feeling of freedom once you became one of the “big kids” who got to head off to school without a parent? That walk or bike ride to school offered kids the chance to burn off some energy before sitting behind a desk all day and taught personal responsibility. Unfortunately, those “Leave It To Beaver” memories of catching up with friends, skipping down the sidewalk and joking about teachers are almost gone in today’s America.

Thirty years ago, more than 66% of all children walked or biked to school. Today, less than 13% of all students enjoy the many benefits associated with walking or biking to school. Today’s kids don’t learn how to cross a street safely. They don’t learn how to safely ride a bicycle. They don’t get the exercise at a time when physical education classes are being cut. If you want to give your kids the same opportunities you had growing up, the Wisconsin Bike Fed can help. The Wisconsin Bike Fed can work with you to get a program started at your kid’s school that encourages children in your community to walk or bike to school. We can point you in the right direction or come in with a turnkey program complete with instructors, bicycles and a proven curriculum designed around your district’s learning targets. We can even help you find funding to run your program through the federal Safe Routes to School grant program.

The Bike Fed has educated more than 10,000 students through our Safe Routes to School programming in communities across Wisconsin, including Madison, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Union Grove, Appleton, Sturgeon Bay, Oregon, Waterford, Marshall, Sheboygan and West Allis. Safe Routes to School is a federally funded program to increase the number and safety of kids walking and biking to school through “the five E’s” of traffic safety: education, engineering, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation.

Benefits of Safe Routes to School programs include:

  • Increasing students’ levels of physical activity, leading to improved health
  • Lowering the number of parents driving their children to school, leading to less traffic congestion around schools
  • Improving air quality surrounding schools and reducing automobile emissions
  • Giving children an early start in understanding traffic rules, preparing them to become responsible motorists later in life
  • Helping students develop a sense of responsibility as they understand the importance of following traffic rules

How We Help

The Bike Fed is available for hire to plan or implement a Safe Routes to School program in your community or at your child’s school. Our proven curriculum meets many school districts’ required learning target and can be tailored to your specific needs. Our two-week-long Safe Routes program is a complete curriculum package. We arrive at your school with instructors, bicycles, helmets and all other materials. Our instructors will do all pre- and post-testing as well as grade homework and provide the classroom teacher with those grades.

Safe Routes to School: Bike Camps

Bike Camp is a two-week summer program that combines our Bike Driver’s Ed curriculum with additional bicycle riding. While the academic-year Safe Routes to School bike education program is 10 hours, Bike Camps are generally 24-30 hours.
Bike Camp is taught in 2.5- to 3-hour-long daily sessions over the course of two weeks. With the additional 20 hours of bicycle riding and practice to neighborhood and citywide destinations, Bike Campers become excellent and safe bike riders.
Daily bicycle field trips give kids a chance to master biking skills and learn about their communities. Bike Camps may have a theme, such as urban agriculture (with bike rides to community gardens and farmers markets) or environmental exploration (with rides to nature centers and preserves).

To get a quick feel for our Bike Camps, listen to this profile from Radio Milwaukee 88.9 FM. With years of experience and the largest Safe Routes to School program in Wisconsin, the Bike Fed can help your community plan and implement a Safe Routes to School program. Our team of bicycle and pedestrian professionals can educate, plan, map and analyze your community to improve the environment for active transportation. We can also provide in-class education to children in schools or provide training to adults on implementing Safe Routes to School and teaching Walking Wisdom and Bike Driver’s Ed.

The Bike Fed’s full range of services includes:

  • Bicycle plans
  • Safe Routes to School plans
  • Safe Routes to School Train-the-Instructor workshops
  • Program planning and community outreach
  • Grant writing assistance
  • In-school education
  • Bicycle maps
  • Pedestrian and bicycle crash maps and analysis
  • Bicycle parking design and plans

We also have tools available to help you start your own Safe Routes to School programs.

Safe Routes to School: Curriculum

Bicycle Fed’s Safe Routes to School Curriculum, Walking Wisdom and Bike Driver’s Ed, is available for download below. Any nonprofit organization or school may use the materials as long as they give credit to the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. Permission is not given to for-profit organizations to use these materials without special permission. Walking Wisdom and Bicycle Driver’s Ed was produced by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin with funding from Milwaukee Public Schools and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, administered through the Milwaukee Police Department. Both education programs are hands-on, involve walking or biking and include a series of homework assignments:

  • Walking Wisdom, a two-hour course taught over two days, which focuses on pedestrian safety. This class is open to 2nd and 3rd graders
  • Bike Driver’s Ed, a 10-hour course taught over 10 days, which focuses on street bicycle safety. This class is recommended for 5th and 6th graders but can be tailored to 7th and 8th graders.

To download a free copy of both curriculums, please click here (PDF). The file is approximately 3 MB. Thanks to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance for assistance with this project.