Taking the Piedibus to School Gives Life Lessons

During my day of airport delays on the way home from Alabama, I got a chance to read a NY Times story datelined Lecco, Italy. It was about a new kind of bus called a Piedibus. That’s a fancy way of describing walking to and from school, with the assistance of volunteers and a ‘bus driver’ all wearing flourescent vests.

It’s a trend that’s catching on not only in this town on the southern tip of Lake Como, but across the UK and in Marin County CA. Kids who used to rely on their mom-mobiles to get them the quarter mile to school now gather with other kids and they all walk.

The story details how much transportation to places like school contributes to global warming and fuel use. The story said that though sometimes the Italian kids are reluctant to walk during rainy days, they actually want to walk more during snowfalls. The route they take goes right by some kid’s houses who still rely on mom to drive them. Some mothers said that the kid’s backpacks are too heavy, and with up to ten notebooks, it is too hard to walk.

But most of the kids who take these piedibuses enjoy both the idea of being green and the socializing that goes along with walking the route. In France, other parts of Italy, and the UK they’re trying this idea out. One big benefit, say supporters, is that children whose parents drive these short distances instead of walking become adults who will more likely prefer to drive than walk. Learning early seems to make a big difference.