Pedestrian Safety Tips

When planning to walk to school or anywhere, it’s important for you and your child to be prepared. Begin teaching pedestrian safety at a young age and continue to refresh their knowledge as they get older. When walking to school, know the potential dangers by familiarizing yourself with the route to school. Pick a route that is direct and avoids crossing too many streets. Always cross at designated areas; it’s important to teach your child to cross the street safely. OSTA has created walking route maps as well as Walk&Roll Meetup Maps to help your child walk to school safely. Walk your route a few times before school starts so you can time it.

Help keep your walk to school safe by following the pedestrian safety rules.

Safety Tips for Children

Walk with Someone
Meet a friend at the same time every day and walk together.

Two students walking to school together
Meet a friend and walk together!

Stand Out
Wear bright or light-coloured clothing or reflective wear, especially at dusk or when it’s dark.

Walk on the Sidewalk
When there’s no sidewalk, walk facing traffic in a single file.

Cross Safely
Only cross at intersections or street corners. Look in all directions before crossing the street and make yourself big. Cross with a crossing guard or at crosswalks if possible.

Be Seen
Always make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.

Obey traffic signals
At crosswalks and crossing signals, push the pedestrian button. Only cross when the traffic signal has changed to the walk symbol.

Student pushing button at crosswalk and waiting to cross until it's safe
Push the pedestrian button!

Be Aware
Watch for cars backing out of driveways – If you see red or white lights, don’t cross the car and make sure the driver sees you.

Distracted walking is unsafe walking
Avoid distractions, like texting or wearing earphones. Keep headphones, cellphones and toys inside your backpack.

Rolling to School
Always walk your bike or scooter when crossing the street.

Remember: Look and Listen!

Here are some tips for your first walk:

  • Pick a route and take test walk with your child
  • Take side streets and paths that are less busy with traffic
  • Wear light or brightly covered clothing

OSC WalkAlone: When, What, and How for Kids

Check the Ottawa Safety Council’s New WalkAlone Program for great tips and resources

Benefits of Walking to School

Walking to school is a wonderful way for students (and sometimes parents!) to get physical activity every day. Students who have expended some energy, and breathed in some early morning fresh air, are more ready to learn. Reducing vehicle traffic around schools is safer for children and improves air quality for all.

Canadian children are sitting too much and moving too little. By encouraging walking to school you’ll be helping your child work towards a happier and healthier lifestyle. Physical activity helps children learn better, solve problems easier, and develop healthier brains.

Children who walk to school:

  • Have better academic performance due to improved concentration and attention span
  • Have reduced stress, depression and anxiety
  • See improved health by meeting the goal of 60 minutes of physical activity per day
  • Learn important life skills such as pedestrian safety

Walking to school also benefits parents:

  • Improved health by increasing daily activity
  • Reduces emissions and traffic congestion around the school
  • Opportunity to teach independence and important life skills
  • More quality time spent together

But wait… there’s more!

The benefits don’t end there, walking also has environmental benefits and creates safer school zones!

More than one-third of Ontario’s greenhouse gas pollution comes from transportation. Every time you drive your child to school you are contributing to more emissions and pollution in Ontario (Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, 2015). Fewer children being driven to school helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution around the school.

Congestion and unsafe driver behaviours are common around schools. A recent study in Toronto observed dangerous driver behaviour at 88% of participating schools. 

You can change that one step at a time!

Help your child become more active by encouraging them to walk to school. Not only is walking fun and enjoyable but it is also a great way to fit more physical activity into their day!

Let’s get more children walking to school!

What’s red and white and makes you stand still?

Test your pedestrian safety skills and road sign knowledge by answering these riddles and completing the puzzles below!

I rhyme with barking and keep cars from ________!

Do you know the answer to this riddle? Complete the puzzle to find out and you’ll master your pedestrian road sign skills!

Not too fast, not too slow, I help guide the speed you go!

Answer this riddle and complete the puzzle to help brush up on your pedestrian road signs!

What's red and white and makes you stand still?

Our pedestrian safety activity continues:

Press me and wait, I'll make sure you cross safely!

Are you ready for today’s riddle and puzzle?

I let you know there's a special zone up ahead!

Riddle and puzzle found here:

I'm yellow and warn people there are children nearby!

Want the answer? Find out here:

I let you know that this is a good place to roll!

Need another hint? Complete the puzzle to find out the answer:

I am seen most of the time on the road. I have 3 colours. Who Am I?
I let you know it's your turn to cross the street – always remember to look both ways! 

Today’s riddle and puzzle:

Help your child be prepared for their walk to school

  • Layered clothing for cold weather
  • Jacket or warm coat
  • Running shoes or boots
  • Backpack – not too heavy
  • Water bottle

NEW Walk&Roll Meetup Maps

Walk&Roll Meetup Maps are designed to encourage students to meetup at designated locations and walk as a small group to school. Walking as a small group, children benefit from “safety in numbers”. Walk&Roll Meetups are unsupervised and designed for children grades 4 and up.  Find your school’s map here

Walking Route Maps

OSTA has created Walking Route Maps to help your child walk to school safely. Walking Route Maps can be downloaded here.

OSTA Colouring Book

Pedestrian Colouring Book

Download OSTA’s Colouring Book to practice your Pedestrian Safety Skills!


Below is a list of resources available to help support active transportation.

Resources for parents:

Active Transportation Parent Tip Sheet (English): Parent Tip Sheet_EN

Conseil aux parents sur le transport actif (Français): Parent Tip Sheet_FR

Resources for Schools:

Active Transportation School Tip Sheet (English): School Tip Sheet_EN

Conseil aux écoles sur le transport actif (Français): School Tip Sheet_FR

Report issues in your school zone:

Tips for reporting traffic and safety concerns: 311 Reporting Tip Sheet_EN

Conseils pour signaler des problèmes de circulation et de sécurité: 311 Reporting Tip Sheet_FR

More helpful tips

It’s never too soon to teach pedestrian safety, visit Ottawa Safety Council to find more helpful tips and you can also follow them on social media: Facebook  Twitter