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Have you heard of pedibuses?

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18/11/2015

It consists of organized routes with school children and adults walking to school along a fixed route and, like a bus, picking up children along the way so they can all go together. At times they are highly structured, with several stops or meeting points, while others simply consist of several parents who take turns going with the children. In other words, each community designs the pedibus to meet its particular needs. Sometimes the school routes are designed by the local city government, while at other times it is the schools themselves that seek to promote the participation of families and school children.

These walking, or "walking bus" itineraries promote the independence of children within their environment and values such as sociability, responsibility, and sustainable mobility (due to pollution reduction) and improve the children's skill in using public thoroughfares safely, something that will be very useful to them throughout life. At the same time, they promote activity and combat a sedentary lifestyle and the ever-growing rates of child overweight and obesity. Children need at least one hour of physical activity per day, and walking to school is a great way to get part of this exercise.

This way of getting to school also benefits road safety by reducing congestion on the streets leading to the school, while favoring better driving by drivers in the area traveled by the group.

However, in order to organize pedibuses, several factors must be verified: that there is enough space to walk on sidewalks and pathways, that traffic is not dense, and that the route passes through safe, risk-free zones among other things. It is recommended that there be at least one adult for every eight school children.

Sometimes, if the school is too far to walk all the way, walking segments must be alternated with bicycle segments, known in Spain as "bicibus", or even with the use of public transportation.

The pedibus phenomenon began in the 1990s in Australia and then spread to 40 counties such as the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada. It is not common in Spain, although organizations such as the Walking City Network (Red de Ciudades que Caminan) are promoting initiatives such as "My school walks" (Mi cole camina), to help educational institutions carry out campaigns for sustainable mobility.

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