Sign shows bikers in Ames where to stop to be detected by traffic signals.

Sign shows bikers in Ames where to stop to be detected by traffic signals.

A meeting is scheduled next month in Des Moines to help develop more programs in Iowa that encourage kids to walk or bike to school.

Alana Croco, director of the Safe Routes to School Program, says her organization is making “good headway,” but there’s a lot more that can be done. “I think a lot of people are hesitant about building walking school bus programs because they feel that the infrastructure in their community is not up to par,” Croco said.

There are ways to work around a lack of sidewalks or traffic signals, according to Croco. A “walking school bus” simply involves kids walking together to school with designated stops along the way. “There are two adults walking with the kids and they just pick kids up along the way to school,” Croco said. “It’s a lot of fun and kids seem to love it.”

The Iowa Safe Routes to School meeting will take place on the morning of January 24 at the Iowa Events Center. One of the presentations will involve a pair of injury prevention specialists from the University of Iowa who are preparing a study which will utilize GPS-enabled helmet cameras to capture the bicycling experience of children and adults.

“It’ll help us kind of see what kids see and how they react to certain situations, so I think it’s going to be a really cool program,” Croco said.

Getting kids to be more active and healthy will improve their performance in the classroom, according to Croco.