Villages make it safer to walk and bike to school
LIMA – Today more than ever, there is a need to provide options that allow all children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school safely. Many communities struggle with traffic congestion around schools. At the same time, children in general engage in less physical activity, which contributes to the prevalence of childhood obesity. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs address these challenges.
Over the summer, Safe Routes to School projects are being completed in Spencerville and Elida School Districts. Funding from the National Safe Routes to School program is providing sidewalks, traffic control improvements and additional bike racks. The project is helping students who live close enough to walk or bike to school.
Both schools have partnered with the Creating Healthy Communities Program of Allen County Public Health and will be promoting projects to get more kids walking and biking to school. Several activities will take place over the school year to bring awareness to the SRTS project at the schools. Parents will be seeing materials come home with their children in the elementary school and teachers will be incorporating bike safety and walking safety into their classrooms.
Education is one of the complementary strategies in an SRTS program. Education activities include teaching pedestrian, bicyclist and traffic safety and creating awareness of the benefits and goals of SRTS. Beyond safety, education for children may also address benefits to personal health and the environment provided by walking and bicycling. Health benefits often focus on the importance of physical activity. Although most children engage in physical activity primarily because they think it is fun, highlighting the relationship between personal health and physical activity gives children another reason to be physically active.
Many parents, community members and school personnel drive near the school on most weekdays. Each driver can contribute to the safety of the walking and bicycling environment for children. Complying with traffic laws and posted speed limits are examples of driving behaviors that result in safer conditions. As you drop your child off this school year in these districts, please pay close attention to your speed and be on the look-out for more students walking and biking to school.