October 5th is Walk/Bike to School Day!
Many communities and schools are using Walk or Bike to School Day as a first step to change community culture and to create options for getting around that provide both health and environmental benefits.
Great for: Students and families who live close enough to walk or bicycle to school. If you live farther away, select one or more locations where students and their families can gather to walk or bike to school together or where families can park cars and then make their way to school.
How it’s done: Contact school officials to foster participation. Schools are a good forum to promote the value of students and their families walking or biking to school. Join other families and form groups in neighborhoods to travel to school together. This is the essence of Walk and Bike to School Days.
Some communities may have good conditions for walking or biking, but parents don't feel comfortable letting their children – especially young ones – travel to school alone. For many of these parents, “walking school buses” may be the answer to this concern.
Walking school buses are groups of children who walk designated routes to school under adult supervision, picking up kids along the way just like a bus.
A variation on the walking school bus is a “bicycle train” where a group of children and adult leaders ride together to school. Safe routes should be planned for either walking or biking.
When walking or biking, parents and children get to appreciate things in their neighborhood they may not notice while driving— seeing friends and neighbors and feeling connected with their community. Parents, children and friends can enjoy one another’s company in ways that don’t occur in a car.
Walking and bicycling to school enables children to incorporate the regular physical activity they need each day, while forming healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Regular physical activity helps children build strong bones, muscles and joints, and decreases the risk of obesity.
It’s Better for the Environment!
When families decide to put on their sneakers or strap on their bike helmets to get to school instead of riding in a car, they help reduce the amount of air pollution caused by automobiles. Note that children could be exposed to higher levels of air pollution near roadways with heavy traffic so, if possible, try to find routes with less traffic volume when walking or biking to school.
To reduce the risk of injury:
- Children and adults need to learn safe walking and bicycling skills.
- Teach children to cross streets at marked crossings and to always look left-right-left.
Parents and other adults sometimes worry about children encountering bullies or strangers on the way to or from school when walking or riding bicycles. Parents may fear kidnapping or assault. While actual occurrences are rare, it’s important to deal with both perceptions and documented problems. Asking parents or other trusted adults to walk or bike to school with children will help address these concerns.
Walking or Biking to School is a great idea – and with proper organization and safety training, can raise consciousness about health and environmental benefits for students and parents alike.
If you want to participate in walking or biking to school activities, much of the above information was found on the official site. The site provides further ideas to involve students and parents with school events and other suggestions.
We at the Injury Law Center hope you’ll participate in ‘Walk to School Day’ on October 5. If your child lives within walking/biking distance to school, make it a year-round activity as often as possible.