Safe Routes to School

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Kari Schlosshauer, Pacific Northwest Regional Policy Manager for Safe Routes to School National Partnership talked with Tra'Renee about the importance of Safe Routes to School when children are walking or riding their bikes. Please click here for more information. National Walk/Bike to School Day is October 4.

Safe Routes to School encourages and enables children to walk and bike to school. However, we know that when walking, biking or riding the bus are not safe or convenient options for children, parents will drive their children to school.

• Communities need to be designed in a way that supports routes to school, parks, and play for children and families that are safe. By advancing policies, programs, and investments that support safe streets and infrastructure, and encouraging schools and families that bike and walk, Safe Routes to School programs aim to create streets and communities that are healthy, equitable, and safe.

• The benefits of Safe Routes to School are significant and widespread, and not just for kids. Making streets healthy and equitable gives everyone in the community more options for getting to school, work, and other destinations, makes it easier and safer to be physically active, and improves safety for everyone on the road.

• We know that kids today aren’t getting enough exercise, particularly in communities where physical activity opportunities are limited. By making it safer and more convenient for kids to walk and bike to school, SRTS programs help kids get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. To put that in context, students who walk a mile to school and back each day will get 2/3 of that recommended 60 minutes of activity.

• When children get physical activity before class, they are more on task and fidget less. In addition, SRTS programs that make it safe for kids to walk and bike to school can improve student attendance and reduce absenteeism.

• Parents need to feel comfortable and confident that children can make physical activity a part of their daily routine as they commute. One popular way to do this, that's already happening at schools in Oregon, is with a walking school bus program, where students walk along a pre-set route with adult chaperones, picking up kids along the way to school.

• The National Partnership offers a number of resources for schools and low-income communities that want to increase walking, biking, and physical activity, including a step-by-step guide to start a Walking School Bus Program at any school.