Re-cycling the mind and body for school

Photo by Alastair Baker

A group of volunteers and students’

cycle to school in Red Lodge as part of

the 'Walking School Bus' program.

Never has going to school looked more fun or healthier. Every day a group of volunteers and children ride their bikes to Mountain View Elementary School and Roosevelt Middle School. The idea is to make the students start their day with physical activity to keep them healthy and prepare them for the day ahead.

The concept is called ‘The Walking School Bus’ (WSB) and became active in Red Lodge last spring after an official walking school bus was implemented for Mountain View School. The impe- tus for this came after the Active Transport Committee (ATC) brought Mark Fenton, a Public Planning and Trans- portation consultant, to Red Lodge to carry out an inventory of active transportation in the town.

WSB is a volunteer run program associated with ATC and the Red Lodge schools.

There are two official routes, one starting in the south that runs whenever 'bus drivers' are available, and the one starting in the north runs everyday weather dependent.

The southern route starts at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday to Friday at 21st and McGillen and is primarily for walkers.

The northern route, primarily for bicycles and scooters, begins at 5th and Haggin and picks up riders along the way at 7th and Platt, 11th and Platt and 13th and Platt. Times vary for this route; on Mondays the ride begins at 8:40 a.m. From Tuesday to Friday the start time is 7:47 a.m.

Two of the students who use this program, Aiden and Brennan Freeman “enjoy” the WSB.

“It is better and fun because I can talk to my really good friend,” said Aiden.

The WSB program is free and is always looking for ‘bus drivers’ and parents and community volunteers can take on a day, every other day or all week and come up with a route. After clearing volunteers through the school, a route and route times are set. Any student can meet the ‘bus’ along the way with their preferred vehicle or if close to the school on foot. The WSB can take on new routes anytime. WSB will not run in heavy snow or rain.

Anyone interested in volunteering or wanting more information can contact the front office at the school or email redlodgeactivetrans- portation@gmail.com (Red Lodge Active Transportation).