LECCO, Italy — Each morning, about 450 students travel along 17 school bus routes to 10 elementary schools in this lakeside city at the southern tip of Lake Como. There are zero school buses.
In 2003, to confront the triple threats of childhood obesity, local traffic jams and — most important — a rise in global greenhouse gases abetted by car emissions, an environmental group here proposed a retro-radical concept: children should walk to school.
They set up a ‘piedibus’ (literally foot-bus in Italian) — a bus route with a driver but no vehicle. Each morning a mix of paid staff members and parental volunteers in fluorescent yellow vests lead lines of walking students along Lecco’s twisting streets to the schools’ gates, Pied Piper-style, stopping here and there as their flock expands.
Lecco’s walking bus was the first in Italy, but hundreds have cropped up elsewhere in Europe and, more recently, in North America.
For the rest of this 2009 article by Elisabeth Rosenthal, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/27/world/europe/27bus.html