Originally published: May 2021

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After a winter like no other, it may feel like your teen is finally coming out of hibernation.  Longer, brighter days are here, and there’s never been a better time to help them explore active travel. It’s about using human-powered ways to go from one place to another – walking or running, or using gear like bikes, scooters, skateboards, rollerblades, and wheel chairs.

Active travel can help teens build skills they can use for life, like planning and time management. It can also help them gain independence, and find joy in physical activity.

Here’s what teens can do to walk or wheel this summer, and what you can do to help. As you head out, be sure to follow current public health guidance in your local area.

Make a plan

Let your teen brainstorm some ideas for active travel. For example, they could:

  • Bike or scooter to a nearby park or field.
  • Walk to get groceries or take-out for the family.
  • Drive or take transit part of the way to school, and walk the rest.
  • Try out a new bike pathway, hiking trail, or skate park in your local area.

Help them think through the route they’ll use, and the time it will take to get there. Your teen may need your advice to avoid busy, high-speed roads, and find safer routes (like those with marked crossings, pathways, sidewalks, and good lighting). Help them get familiar with points along the way, like parks and picnic areas, murals and art, and other landmarks.

Travel smart

Put your teen in charge when it comes to getting their active travel gear together, and have them make sure everything is in good working order. Give them a chance to show what they know, and how they’re capable of making safe choices. Here are some important things to talk through:

  • Rules of the road and pathways, and expected behaviour.
  • How to limit distractions, like by putting phones, headphones or earbuds away, and keeping eyes up.
  • Public health measures in place, like maintaining physical distance.
  • The gear they’ll need to keep them safe, like a bike helmet that fits, clothes that suit the weather, and appropriate footwear. It’s also a good idea to bring water and a lock for their wheels.

Give it a go 

Try active travel as a family. Explore different ways of moving, and check out different routes – it can be as simple as getting off the bus a stop or two early, and walking the rest of the way. Active travel is a great way to bring your family together, and can be a safe and healthy way to physically distance. (Be sure that all active travelers follow current public health guidance).

Give your teen a chance to try active travel on their own. They can start small and work up to bigger trips. Explore Your 2.4 has great tips to get teens moving with mapping technology.

Set realistic goals for active travel. It may not work for every day or every trip, but it can be doable a few times a week! Your teen might enjoy the challenge of trying to reach a certain distance over time, like adding up short nightly walks until they’ve reached the distance between Banff and Lake Louise (58km) or Calgary and Edmonton (300 km).  

Step it up

Young people have a lot to say about the things that matter to them. Listen to your teen’s ideas about how to make active travel more appealing in your community. Help them connect with others who share their passion. For example, they could:

  • Join community clean ups or take part in outdoor art projects.
  • Advocate for bike, scooter, and skateboard storage racks in public places.
  • Support active travel planning at school.


For safety tips to explore with your teen, check out MyHealth.Alberta.ca:

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