October 8th is International Walk to School Day. And you’re probably not welcome to participate…
Why walk to school? According to the Walk Bike to School website, there are five very good reasons.
- It’s fun!
- Healthier habits
- Cleaner environment
- Promoting safety
- Community benefits
But depending on where your kids go to school, it might not even be possible for them to participate. Over the past several decades many schools have chosen to relocate out of populated areas where most of the pedestrian infrastructure (e.g. sidewalks) is located. While this approach has benefits, it essentially precludes many of our children from getting a healthy dose of exercise by walking or biking to and from school.
Many times the road network around these suburban schools is made up of high volume and high speed traffic, making it unsafe for walkers without sidewalks or trails to protect them. When this is the case, these areas are then designated as “hazardous” which necessitates busing of students, even if the school is just around the corner (or in some cases even in their back yards).
How can we help? One of the ways I help is by partnering with Lighten Up Lancaster County to perform walkability audits for municipalities and school districts to identify opportunities for improving the walkability of our communities. We offer common sense solutions designed to get more kids active and healthy.
You can help by supporting your school district if they ask your kids to walk – this reduces transportation costs and gets our kids more active. You wouldn’t believe the push back that our schools get when they ask kids to walk to school (OK…maybe you would.) They need your voice of support.
And if it makes sense for you to walk to school with you kids on October 8th (and you can do it safely) by all means do it! That one little trip might open your eyes to the benefits of taking a little walk. Did you walk to school with your kids (maybe for the first time)? Leave a comment and let us know what you thought…