Breathe Easy this School Year with Commute Solutions

The dawn of a new school year means more children and traffic in and around our neighborhoods.  With a few simple steps, we can make these area schools safer and healthier for our children.  The lazy days of summer are coming to a close, so get out your pen and paper and take notes on the many transportation options to get your kids to and from school.

Let’s start with the classic, the yellow school bus.  In Austin, this option is available for students who live at least two miles or more from the assigned school and this may vary depending on your district.  Many school districts offer a bus stop finder that will help you locate the closest stop, along with times, to your house.  Here are a few examples from Austin I.S.D., Round Rock I.S.D, and Bastrop I.S.D. that will get you started, as well as you can usually find this tool on your I.S.D’s transportation page.  Students also travel to school by mass transit, so check out Capital Metro’s trip planner to get you moving in the right direction.

Another classic option is a good old fashioned bicycle.  Add a twist by trying out a bicycle train or bikepool!  With this, students grab their bikes, a helmet and some friends, and along with some adult supervision they are on their way.  Students can mix it up with the BOW WOW Program (Bike On Wednesday, Walk On Wednesday), while encouraging active transportation to school.  BOW WOW is a fun way to gets kids moving while decreasing car traffic around participating schools.  Students can also try out the Walking School Bus.  This creates a safe mode for kids to travel to and from school, while incorporating more exercise into their day.  A group of children walk to school with one or more adults and you can define a meeting spot, route and departure times. Many schools promote and support these programs, and at times, offer incentives or prizes to students.  This is also a way for parents and children to spend more time together and get ready for the school day.

In addition to bikes and buses, consider the carpool!  It’s never too early to pick up good commuting habits and with a number of extracurricular activities, such as band, sporting events and academic clubs, students can carpool with friends.  Schoolpools are a popular alternative and you can carpool with other families in the neighborhood.  With this, you can help reduce traffic and air pollution around schools, but don’t forget to turn your car off while waiting.  Clean air is important to jump starting a new day!

Lastly, don’t forget to share the road and think safety first.  School zones can be full of activity with buses, cars, bikes and pedestrians.  State law requires that traffic in both directions stop on undivided roadways when students are exiting and entering a school bus.  These rules do not apply to city buses, so make sure you always proceed with caution and if you are a passenger always use the crosswalk.  Also, parents and students alike need to remember to X-the-Text: Put the phone down and focus on the road.  You may very well save $200 in traffic fines by remembering that state law prohibits using a cell phone in a school zone!

To find more information on transportation alternatives and safety tips, please visit Commute Solutions or  Safe Routes to School.

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